The Level 2 autonomous systems from Ford, GM, and Tesla aren't created equal.

Update: Clarified Auto Lane Change functionality for Tesla Autopilot system.

 

The global automotive scene is in the midst of a paradigm shift. Electric motors are replacing internal combustion power, and advanced technology is literally taking control of automobiles. We are witnessing the birth of autonomous mainstream transportation, but it's not quite ready for prime time both in terms of development and regulation. However, some systems with limited self-drive capability are available for consumers to buy right now.

Ford is the latest automaker to step into this realm with its BlueCruise system, promising self-drive features similar to its crosstown rival, General Motors. Meanwhile, both Detroit brands are competing with Tesla, the company that wowed the world with its Autopilot system back in 2014. Everyone else has been playing catch-up since then, which begs the obvious question. Have Ford and GM caught up?

To find out, we gathered up some information for a direct comparison focusing on features, functionality, and cost. Note: with technology evolving at a rapid rate, this information is subject to change. Here's a quick overview followed by some noteworthy information on each system.

System Hardware Use Location Auto Lane Change Driver Monitoring Hands-Free Capability Cost
Ford BlueCruise External cameras, radar 100,000 miles of approved highways in North America N/A Driver-focused camera Yes $600 one-time software fee,*  monthly subscription after three years
GM Super Cruise External cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, lidar, GPS data 200,000 miles of approved highways in North America Yes (enhanced Super Cruise only) Driver-focused camera Yes $2,500 one-time fee, $25 monthly subscription after three years ($15 with OnStar subscription)
Tesla Autopilot External cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar (slated for removal on future models) Any major highway (FSD currently allows limited use on city streets in certain situations) Yes (with FSD  upgrade only) Force sensors in steering wheel No

$0 - standard on all Tesla models (FSD with more advanced features costs $10,000)

Ford BlueCruise

Ford BlueCruise autonomous system (F-150 instrument cluster)

Ford's curiously named BlueCruise is the latest tech to hit the market. As such, details are still slim and we don't yet know how much Ford will charge after the initial three-year subscription is up.

In addition to the $600 option (that Ford lists as software-specific), BlueCruise requires the Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 package on the F-150, which is $1,595 all total (including the $600 software cost). For select trims on the Mustang Mach-E, it's part of a $3,200 package. For now, Ford says BlueCruise is only available with the Mach-E and F-150.

BlueCruise will use a driver-facing camera to make sure you're paying attention while the system is operating. It will also let you drive completely hands free while it's activated. 

GM Super Cruise

Cadillac Super Cruise: 1,200 Miles, No Hands

Starting as a feature exclusive to Cadillac, Super Cruise is now offered on the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, though it's not the advanced Super Cruise system with lane-change functionality. As for Caddy, it's currently available on the CT4 and CT5 sedans, as well as the Escalade.

Like BlueCruise, Super Cruise relies on a driver-facing camera to ensure you're paying attention while it's active. It will also allow you to drive without any hands on the wheel.

Tesla Autopilot

Tesla Model S Autopilot

Every Tesla comes standard with Autopilot, offering Level 2 autonomous capability that isn't limited to specific stretches of highway. Additionally, Tesla offers features like summon mode, which slowly brings the car to the driver. Beyond that, Tesla's Full Self Drive (FSD) mode currently opens self-drive capability to city streets, offers point-to-point functionality with Navigate on Autopilot, and has an enhanced summon mode where the car can drive itself from a parking spot to meet you in front of a store. FSD is still in development, however, and the full beta that can navigate itself anywhere is only available to a small number of Tesla owners at this time.

Regardless of the system or the location, Tesla requires a hand on the wheel at all times. The steering wheel has a force sensor that can tell if your hand's on the wheel, and if it's absent for too long, Autopilot will alert the driver to reengage and eventually stop the car if that doesn't happen. There is no other driver-monitoring tech, particularly no cameras that monitor the driver's eyes. There is a driver-facing camera inside all Teslas, but the company currently does not use it for this purpose.

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