Ford will launch hands-free driving assist on Mach-E in late 2021
“Active Drive Assist” will rival tech like GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot
Driver assistance systems are growing in ability, and are now offered to a varying degree on many new cars. Some feature just the basics, others ramp up the content to cover everything from auto-emergency braking to a parking assistant.
Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assist technologies includes pre-collision assist with auto braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, auto high-beams and a rear-view camera. The up-level Assist Plus also includes adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, lane centering and voice-activated navigation.
The next level of sophistication is set to debut on the Mustang Mach-E all-electric crossover in the second half of 2021. The upgrade adds, among other things, hands-free driving, and will compete with Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot.
Active Drive Assist uses the intelligent adaptive cruise control with lane centering to keep the Mach-E in the lane and at a safe distance behind the car ahead, and it does so without requiring the driver to hold the steering wheel.
When the system is engaged the information is relayed through the instrument cluster. Nestled within the instrumentation is an animated picture of the steering wheel and driver’s hands. The animation tells the driver when to remove their hands and when to get a grip.RELATEDGM is taking its hands-free highway-driving tech into city centresLorraine Complains: Get your self-driving cars off my roads
The key to the system is the infrared camera that monitors the driver to ensure they are awake and alert — the camera works even when the driver is wearing a face mask or sunglasses. Turning the steering wheel or dabbing the brake pedal automatically returns control of the car to the driver. Unlike some systems, Ford says the hand-over process is seamless and not as abrupt.
Naturally, there is the usual caveat — the driver is always in charge and responsible for the car.
At rollout, the system will work on more that 160,000-kilometres of pre-mapped divided highways in the United States and Canada. The system is smart enough it will suggest when the driver might want to engage the system. New highways, construction and mapping changes will be updated accordingly, and it will be done over-the-air or at the dealer. When done over-the-air, the driver selects the update and it loads automatically.
Other incremental improvements to Co-Pilot 360 for the Mach-E include active park assist 2.0. It not only parks the car; it helps to extricate it if another car parks too close. Road edge detection and blind-spot assist both use steering input to steer away from trouble if the driver fails to take action.
The adaptive cruise now comes with a more advanced stop/go function — the system now works for up to 30 seconds after the car comes to a standstill, which is up from the previous three seconds. Finally, intersection assist helps the driver when making a left. If another car blows through a red light the pre-collision with auto braking intervenes if the driver does not take evasive action.
Driving.CA – Graeme Fletcher