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Ford unveils new hands-free driver-assist system ‘similar to Tesla Autopilot’ coming to Mustang Mach-E

Ford is today unveiling BlueCruise, a hands-free highway driving system, which it describes as “similar to Tesla Autopilot.”

The new system is going to be pushed as an optional over-the-air software update to Ford Mustang Mach-E owners.

When we tested the Ford Mustang Mach-E last year, the electric car was already equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist systems.

But now Ford is taking things one step further with what it now calls “BlueCruise.”

In a press release today, Ford compared its new BlueCruise driver-assist technology to Tesla Autopilot:

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.

It’s rare for automakers to name competitors in official communications, but it looks like Ford is going after the leaders in the space with its new BlueCruise.

Like Tesla Autopilot, BlueCruise offers lane centering and adaptive cruise control, but unlike Autopilot and more like GM SuperCruise, Ford’s system allows for hands-free driving “on prequalified sections of divided highways called Hands-Free Blue Zones.”

BlueCruise uses a driver-facing camera to monitor attention on the road, which is required to keep driving hands-free.

To test the new system, Ford embarked on what it called the “Mother of All Road Trips,” a more than 110,000-mile trip through 37 states and five Canadian provinces to “challenge BlueCruise against a wide range of road, weather, and traffic conditions.”

They produced a video about the trip in order to introduce the system:

BlueCruise is coming to the Mustang Mach-E and Ford F150 later this year through over-the-air updates.

As long as the latter is not electric, we don’t care much about it, but for the former, here is the pricing and availability information:

For Mustang Mach-E, BlueCruise comes standard on CA Route 1, Premium and First Edition variants. It’s an available package on the Select trim for $3,200 – $600 for the software and $2,600 for the rest of the package – as part of the larger Comfort and Technology package, which includes features such as a 360-degree camera, heated front seats and heated steering wheel.

The first update is coming during the second half of the year, and Ford plans to keep improving the system through over-the-air updates after that, including updating the mapping and adding more miles of prequalified highway.

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