Ford is laying down the gauntlet in the self-driving arena, declaring its BlueCruise software has completed the “Mother of All Road Trips.”
Self-driving vehicles are the next great frontier for the automotive industry. Virtually all of the major players are working on self-driving and autonomous driving systems. Ford is working on its self-driving software, BlueCruise, and has even gone so far as to call Tesla’s competing system vaporware.
BlueCruise is a Level 2 technology. Autonomous driving is rated on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being fully manual and 5 requiring no human control whatsoever.
BlueCruise is an SAE Level 2 driver-assist technology, similar to Tesla Autopilot but with the advantage of offering a true hands-free driving experience while in Hands-Free Mode that does not require a driver’s hands to stay in contact with the steering wheel, unless prompted by vehicle alerts.
And unlike other approaches – such as GM’s Super Cruise, which uses red and green lighting, or Tesla’s Autopilot, which requires a driver keep their hands on the steering wheel – BlueCruise communicates with drivers in different ways. The instrument cluster transitions to communicate that the feature is in Hands-Free mode through text and blue lighting cues, effective even for those with color blindness.
Ford is putting its money where its mouth is, however, having recently put its BlueCruise through rigorous testing. According to the company, it sent a fleet of 10 test vehicles — five Mustang Mach-E SUVs and five F-150s — on the “Mother of All Road Trips.” The trip was more than 110,000 miles through 37 states and five Canadian provinces.
“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product platform and operations officer. “Sending these vehicles out for real-world driving experience is just one of many ways we ensured that BlueCruise technology offers confidence and convenience for drivers all across the continent.”
The company is planning on providing BlueCruise via over-the-air software updates later this year on 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E models equipped with Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 Prep Package.