2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Gets Hands-Free Driving Feature

Tesla’s autopilot is the best-known hands-free highway driving system (supposed to be), followed by Super Cruise, which General Motors presented on the 2018 Cadillac CT6. Of course, only the Caddy system is truly hands-free: the Tesla configuration, despite current assumptions, requires periodic contact from the steering wheel to the steering wheel to maintain driver assistance, otherwise it deactivates.

Ford has studied these functions closely (and other functions of self-steering and adaptive cruising) and thinks it can do better. When the Ford Mustang Mach-E 2021 electric crossover SUV goes on sale before the end of the year, customers will be able to get the crossover with the equipment needed for many kilometers of hands-free driving, self-parking and other improvements to come forever. -Evolution of the Ford Co-Pilot360 collection of driver assistance functions. It should be noted, however, that none of these systems promise to make autonomous or autonomous, but rather to automate the steering, the accelerator and the brakes under certain conditions while the driver continues to closely monitor the road and the car.

In a call with reporters, Ford officials explained why they thought their system would still be the best for customers. To start: the name. Excavating at Tesla, who was criticized for calling his Autopilot system, then surprised when drivers treat him like an autopilot (resulting in disastrous accidents), Ford is careful with his words. “We carefully select the names of features that do not promise that they can do more than they can,” said Chris Billman, driver assistance engineer at Ford. The automaker believes that its system, called Active Drive Assist, is more precisely named.

The other difference that Ford believes will separate Active Drive Assist from the package is the ease with which drivers can engage and disengage the system, said Darren Palmer, Ford’s global director for battery electric vehicles. Some systems force the driver to almost regain control of the vehicle and the transition can be abrupt. In the Mach-E, Palmer said, the transition from man to machine and back is barely noticeable as the Active Drive Assist smoothly adjusts the steering or braking during the system tilt.

Hands-free mode

A new hands-free mode allows drivers to raise their hands on the steering wheel on divided, pre-mapped highways as long as the person behind the wheel continues to pay attention to the road ahead. An advanced driver-oriented infrared camera tracks the driver’s eyes and head position in hands-free mode, as well as when lane centering is activated, which works on any road with lane lines . Adding this new camera is essential, said Billman. It is in addition to the cameras and radar that already dot the car.

Palmer said that a lot of time and effort has been spent on graphics and messages that inform the driver of the state of technology, with moving images, such as a graphic protection bubble around the car that indicates that computers are driving. The warnings will be clear when the driver needs to pay more attention or take control, otherwise the vehicle will slow down until the driver is re-engaged. Billman said the screens will also alert drivers when they enter a hands-free area, with animations showing that it is okay to let go of the wheel. The graphics were well received in client clinics, he said, which was important as some competing systems have been criticized for their confusion.

Progressive deployment on the Mach-E

Ford’s timeline is to deploy Active Drive Assist on the Mach-E in two phases: customers can first opt ​​for the Prep package at the time of purchase. The Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep pack includes all the camera and radar equipment. The advanced driver-oriented infrared camera even monitors those in the driver’s seat with sunglasses.

In the summer of 2021, customers will have a menu of software options that they can purchase, including Active Drive Assist, which would be sent to Mach-E as a live update. This follows the example of Tesla, which sends live updates to its customers’ cars. Palmer said that each module in the Ford system has been designed for live upgrades to ensure that Mach-E customers always have access to the latest technology.

Mapped miles will increase

Initially, Ford will offer hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of freeways divided into the 50 states and Canada. For comparison, GM’s Super Cruise system operates on more than 200,000 miles of highway across North America, and GM continues to expand the geo-fenced area of ​​the entity.

Ford engineers and test drivers have accumulated over 650,000 miles of test technologies such as adaptive cruise control and blind spot information systems with cross traffic alert to ensure these features based on radars and cameras operate in as many real-world scenarios as possible. The idea is to keep improving and to be able to recognize and manage the roads under construction. Ultimately, the company plans to offer hands-free driving on far more than the initial 100,000 miles of road on which it is currently lit.

Can I park it for you?

The other improvement announced by Ford concerns its parking assistance system. The Prep pack also includes Active Park Assist 2.0, which allows the owner to simply press a button to enter and exit the car from tight parking spaces.

Even Mach-Es without the Prep package benefits from a number of improvements. The standard Co-Pilot360 2.0 package adds a roadside detection function to the car’s lane keeping system. The function is designed to operate in rural areas with no visible road lines and warns the driver if the vehicle drifts towards the roadside. During this time, the Mach-E blind spot assistance will push the crossing into its lane if it detects a vehicle in the blind spot during a lane change maneuver.

These additions add to the functionality that Ford is already integrating into its Co-Pilot safety system, which includes automatic high beams, blind spot detection with transverse traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, post-braking. collision, etc. Ford has also improved its adaptive cruise control system, which has a stop and start function. While the driver had to reactivate the function after the car has stopped for three seconds, the person sitting on the left can now let the car do the restarting work if it has been stopped for less than 30 seconds. The system also recognizes speed signs now, and is able to apply the brakes when making a left turn at an intersection if the various sensors determine that another vehicle has ignored a red light.

Competitive price

Ford is not yet pricing for its latest additions to its Co-Pilot360 safety system, but Palmer has said it will be very competitive.

And although Ford isn’t sharing its plans after the Mach-E debut, it’s safe to assume that the features will be rolled out to other future Ford vehicles. For now, Ford will note that Active Drive Assist should be deployed on certain Ford vehicles of the 2021 model year and that the functionality will be available in the Mustang Mach-E range. We would assume that the next generation F-150, along with the Ford Bronco 2021 and the Bronco Sport 2021, is a solid candidate for this feature.

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