Many modern cars have some level of driver-assist. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic braking, once only found on high-end luxury cars, have trickled down to more affordable vehicles.
Self-driving cars are one possible future the automotive industry is looking towards. Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise are making strides, and you can find this developing tech from other manufacturers, including Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW and Audi. Even Apple may be adding autonomous driving to its rumored production car.
Though autonomous vehicles are in the minority of car sales, news from Ford indicates how much the technology is catching on. The future may be nearer than you think.
Ford goes hands-free
A press release from Ford shows how serious the company is about self-driving tech. Following 500,000 miles of testing its BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system, Ford drove five F-150 pickups and five electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs 110,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada.
Like GM’s Super Cruise, Ford’s BlueCruise works on certain sections of highways. Ford calls these Hands-Free Blue Zones and says they comprise more than 100,000 miles of North American roads. While on these roads, drivers with BlueCruise can enjoy hands-free driving.
The tech comes with a suite of features, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centering and speed sign recognition. BlueCruise will be offered on 2021 F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E models equipped with the available Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. Owners will be able to upgrade to BlueCruise via over-the-air software update.
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Ford’s F-Series line of trucks is among the bestselling vehicles of all time. Ford sold 787,422 F-150 pickup trucks in 2020 alone, making it the bestselling pickup in the U.S. for 44 straight years. Bringing BlueCruise to a popular vehicle such as the F-150 bodes well for the self-driving tech across the automotive industry.
Ford plans to equip 100,000 vehicles with BlueCruise in the first year.
Autopilot? Not really
Though BlueCruise is the latest example of hands-free driving tech, it’s not truly autopilot in the sense that the car is doing everything on its own. Like Tesla’s Autopilot, this is SAE Level 2 driver-assist technology. These vehicles can simultaneously control steering, braking and acceleration and stay in their lanes while also employing adaptive cruise control.
A driver should still monitor the car and take over as needed in vehicles equipped with Level 2 driver-assist. Though truly autonomous vehicles are undergoing testing in limited and controlled environments, we have a ways to go before we see this in production vehicles.