Ford is planning to release its own driver-assist technology, BlueCruise, through a software update to the Mustang Mach-E later and F-150 pickup truck later this year. When it was announced in April, the automaker advertised it as offering “true hands-free driving”, while at the same time taking a jab at Tesla and their Autopilot software.
Ahead of its launch, automotive industry veteran Sandy Munro got behind the wheel of a Mach-E with the software installed. During his test Munro found Ford’s claims may be the ones that are misleading.
Munro was joined on the drive by a Chris Billman, Ford’s Chief Engineer, who did his best to sell Munro on the BlueCruise technology. But it didn’t take long for Munro to see its drawbacks.
One of those is that it requires manual intervention to do anything other than maintain its speed within a lane. Lane changes and taking an exit both require driver intervention, unlike Tesla’s Autopilot and Navigate on Autopilot which can do both autonomously.
But perhaps the biggest drawback happened later on his drive. BlueCruise only works on pre-mapped “limited access divided highways”, known as BlueZones. Despite being in one of these BlueZones, the software couldn’t handle a slight curve in the road, which was described by Billman as a “sharp curve.”
Even more concerning was that Munro needed to take control of the vehicle as a result, but there was no audible warning to do so. The only indications were some animations on the instrument cluster display behind the steering wheel, which he fortunately noticed before veering off into another lane.
Ford has been quite explicit in their advertising of BlueCruise, using the phrase “true hands-free driving” to describe the software. Ford’s North America Product Communications manager Mike Levine has been one of Tesla’s most vocal critics, one time calling the Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite vapourware.
From Munro’s test of BlueCruise, it might be Ford that is overstating the abilities of their driver-assist software.
You can check out the full video below.