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Ford’s BlueCruise automated driving system tops Consumer Reports study

Ford will begin offering its new BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system to customers later this year. The system is seen here in the Ford F-150.   (Courtesy of Ford Motor Co./TNS)
By Kalea Hall Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.’s BlueCruise active driving assistance (ADA) system has surpassed General Motors Co.’s SuperCruise and Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot to achieve the top spot in a Consumer Reports’ study of 12 of the ADA systems released Wednesday.

Consumer Reports tested the systems at its 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut and on a 50-mile public roads loop between September and December 2022. Each system was rated in 40 tests, including steering the car, controlling the speed and keeping the driver safe. Automatic lane change and reacting for traffic lights were not evaluated.

Ford’s BlueCruise came out on top, followed by Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance. Former automated system leader Tesla fell from its second-place showing in CR’s 2020 study to seventh.

Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of auto testing, said Tesla hasn’t changed the system’s basic functionality since it was introduced while others have improved their adaptive cruise control, or ACC, for speed control and lane centering assistance, known as LCA, for steering control.

“After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system,” Fisher said in the study. “While other automakers have evolved their ACC and LCA systems, Tesla has simply fallen behind.”

Both BlueCruise (and Lincoln’s ActiveGlide) Super Cruise have direct driver monitoring systems (DDMS) requiring drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Infrared cameras are pointed at driver faces and alert the driver to pay attention.

“Systems like BlueCruise are an important advancement that can help make driving easier and less stressful,” Fisher said. “But they don’t make a car self-driving at all. Instead, they create a new way of collaboratively driving with the computers in your car. When automakers do it the right way, it can make driving safer and more convenient. When they do it the wrong way, it can be dangerous.”

BlueCruise was not evaluated in the 2020 CR study since Ford launched it with the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 pickup in 2021. BlueCruise has enrolled more than 120,000 customers and they’ve driven more than 42 million hands-free miles, Ford spokesperson Wes Sherwood said in a statement.

“Customers value Ford BlueCruise and we are focused on making it even better, including launching BlueCruise 1.2 now with more refinements and features such as hands-free lane changing,” Sherwood said.

“Our driver monitoring camera system is an important technology that helps ensure customers remain in control of driving as we advance these technologies even further.”