Shots Fired

Ford CEO Mocks Tesla For Rolling Out Half-Finished Autonomous Driving

"We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to."

Apr 15 by Victor Tangermann
Ford
Image by Ford

US carmaker Ford just announced its answer to Tesla’s Autopilot. The hands-free highway driving system, called BlueCruise, is making its way into the Mustang Mach-E, the company’s latest flagship electric vehicle.

CEO Jim Farley took the opportunity to take potshots at the competition.

“BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to,” the executive wrote in a tweet, an apparent reference to how Tesla chose to test its latest “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) technologies through a much-criticized public beta.

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In October 2020, Tesla opened the FSD beta to about 2,000 beta testers. Some of these drivers, as the Elon Musk-led company admitted last month, had their access to the beta revoked after reportedly not paying enough attention to the road.

The FSD feature allows Tesla vehicles to autonomously take turns and navigate complex driving situations including four way intersections — but it falls short of being a “full” self-driving experience, despite its name. In fact, a German court ruled it to be false advertising last year.

It’s a controversial technology, CNBC reports, with several crashes being reported recently.

Ford’s BlueCruise system will make its way to the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E later this year. According to the company, the system has been refined over 500,000 miles of driving.

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The company deployed ten test vehicles, including F-150s and Mach-Es, on a 110,000 mile road trip through 37 states and five Canadian provinces to test it out in a variety of road conditions.

“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, in an official statement. “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 system aims a bit lower than FSD, promising fewer features and omitting particularly challenging tasks like autonomous city driving. It’ll also use a camera monitoring system that won’t require drivers to periodically “check in” with a touch of the steering wheel, as is the case for Tesla’s FSD.

Tesla drivers have arguably long been the car company’s guinea pigs — which some superfans see as a cool feature, but others decry as an ethical minefield.

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Perhaps the conventional road of developing and testing the software in-house is the safer way to go.

READ MORE: Ford CEO takes shot at Tesla for using customers to test unfinished tech [CNBC]

More on Ford: Elon Musk Praises Tesla Nemesis, Ford, In Rare Reversal


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