Ford says its Active Drive Assist system will allow for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada.
Ford Motor followed Tesla in many ways when it came to the Mustang Mach-E, its new battery electric vehicle, but CEO Jim Farley took to Twitter Thursday to show that Ford is nothing like Tesla when it comes to testing driverless tech using customers as guinea pigs on public roads.
In a tweet about Ford’s upcoming hands-free highway driving system, Farley said: “BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to.”
The message was a jab at Tesla and CEO Elon Musk.
In October 2020, Tesla released a beta, or unfinished, version of its premium driver-assist system which the company markets as “Full Self-Driving” or FSD to customers.
Only some customers who purchase the FSD option get access to the beta version to try the newest features that are being added to the system before all bugs are worked out. The company disclosed that it rolled out FSD beta to 2,000 drivers previously, but revoked access for a few drivers who allegedly weren’t paying proper attention to the road.
In his most recent update, via Twitter, Musk said on April 9 that Tesla is “Almost ready with FSD Beta V9.0. Step change improvement is massive, especially for weird corner cases & bad weather. Pure vision, no radar.”
Despite its brand name, the FSD system is not capable of controlling a Tesla vehicle in all normal driving circumstances. Tesla told the California DMV late last year, according to records obtained by CNBC and others, that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system.”
Tesla faces criticism for the Full Self Driving brand name in the U.S., and a German court barred Tesla from using the terms Autopilot and Full Self-Driving in advertising because they overstate the capabilities of a Tesla vehicle.
There have also been several crashes recently involving Teslas, prompting federal investigations that will determine whether driver assistance technology may have contributed to or caused the collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last month that it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles, 23 of which remain active, according to Reuters.
According to Ford, its BlueCruise system will be released later this year on the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E after more than 500,000 miles of development testing and fine-tuning.
Ford’s system, much like General Motors’ Super Cruise, promises fewer capabilities than Tesla’s FSD system. But Ford’s won’t require drivers to “check-in” by touching the steering wheel. Instead, a camera-based system inside the vehicle monitors the driver’s eyes and attentiveness to the road.
The use of Ford and GM systems are also restricted to certain pre-mapped highways in the U.S. and Canada. Tesla doesn’t restrict use of Autopilot and FSD or FSD beta in the same way.