By on June 18, 2020

ford

Ford brought back the Mustang Mach 1 to offer buyers an involved, hands-on, track-worthy driving experience, but the Mustang Mach-E arriving next year will offer the ability to go hands-off. New hardware and software, combined with extensive mapping of certain divided highways, will see some Ford vehicles gain the ability to cruise without a driver’s hands on the wheel, starting in the 2021 model year.

The long-expected tech addition catapults Ford into the big leagues of Level 2 autonomy, rivaling General Motors (Super Cruise) and Tesla (Autopilot). Like the others, this feature still falls short of any “self-driving” or “fully autonomous” label. At least Ford’s system has something Tesla’s doesn’t.

That would be an infrared driver-monitoring camera designed to prevent distraction or dozing. Super Cruise has it; Autopilot does not. Supposedly able to peer even through sunglasses, the camera alerts drivers whose gaze drifts away from the road, slowing the vehicle if necessary.

Called Active Drive Assist, the feature can be added to vehicles ordered with the new Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package — a radar and camera-festooned upgrade arriving for 2021. Mustang Mach-E buyers will have first dibs on the technology, as the package will made available on all flavors of the upcoming electric crossover.

Ford says buyers of the prep package have “the opportunity to purchase Active Drive Assist software and receive the feature at a Ford dealer or via an over-the-air update expected in the third quarter of 2021.” Early orderers of the Mach-E can see it added at the time of purchase, the automaker said.

ford

So, what does come standard on the Mach-E? Several new features. In addition to the usual Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist features, which includes adaptive cruise control with lane centering, the Assist 2.0 version brings aboard Blind Spot Assist and Road Edge Detection — the latter feature useful for keeping the vehicle planted to pavement in rural areas. Intelligent adaptive cruise with stop-and-go functionality joins the fray, too (the car can now remain stopped for up to 30 seconds without the driver having to reactivate the feature), as does Active Park Assist 2.0. Parallel and perpendicular parking is a touch of a button away.

Intersection Assist employs the sensors and cameras already present for pre-collision braking to help the vehicle navigate left-hand turns without incident.

But back to the gee-whiz stuff. The optional Active Drive Assist offers two driving experiences: Hands-Free Mode and Lane-Centering Mode, the latter of which requires a driver’s hands to remain on the wheel. In hands-free mode, a driver can relax a bit, relinquishing the wheel on more than 100,000 miles of roadway in the U.S. and Canada.

Ford claims the system soaked up 650,000 miles of real-world testing during the development phase.

“Our team has aggressively tested Active Drive Assist to bring something to our customers’ lives that they can trust,” said Justin Teems, Active Drive Assist feature lead. “We go to far-flung places around the U.S. and Canada – from Florida to California, from Quebec to Texas, Wyoming and Idaho – to try to stimulate those rare-case sensor measurements we might not get anywhere else, capturing data in a number of different ways.”

Darkness, rain  – you get the idea. Ford does mention bright sun and snow as other conditions the system supposedly tackled, and we all know how easily these two conditions can flummox driver-assist systems. How the system shakes out in customers’ hands won’t be known until next year. YouTube will be sure to keep us abreast of any and all unsanctioned tests.

As for what non-Mach-E vehicles receive what, we don’t know. The packages vary, and we won’t know where all the tech lands until closer to 2021 model year roll-outs.

[Images: Ford]

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33 Comments on “Ford Goes Hands-Free, Promising Relaxed – but Not Distracted – Cruising in 2021...”


  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Why are we calling it “autonomy” anything? And Level 2?

    It’s no wonder many get confused. And crash Testla is no help.

    I recommend Level 3 cruise.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Found On [the] Road, Dead – takes on completely new meaning

  • avatar
    loner

    I believe there are way too many drivers these days who are overly attentive, engaged, and deliberate in their driving. I’m grateful that the auto companies are working to address this problem.

  • avatar
    stangmatt66

    Mach E order books open Monday, June 22. You should have all the options, packages, and prices then.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    You know what I like? I like driving cars/trucks and SUVs I like driving fast cars, I like driving slow cars fast, I like driving rugged vehicles over rough terrain

    What I don’t like is car companies that want to take one of my last joys of outdoor activities and deciding they can do it better for me. Let ME drive the damn car

    /rant over :)

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yea, but your votes go to that part of gov. which will take away your toys, your rights to be outside, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Coming from a comrade who believes in restricted voting rights, that’s rich. Tell it to your master Putin

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          A little more accurate.

          https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2020-06-10/obamagate

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Putin is my friend. Not master. But you do everything to bring worse than Putin here. This is unfortunate thing about US. Everybody here thinks of money, top to bottom. Take dictator Stalin. Never in his mind he had enriching himself. In fact, his wife was the worst-dressed woman at any event. He did not even collect his salary most of the time. And look at Biden/Clinton – your buddies. All they do is corrupt minds to enrich themselves. Yes, dictators often better than those who we think are not dictators.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Putin is my friend”

            Does he know? I would gladly pay for a one way ticket back to Moscow so that you can snuggle up with your “friend” I’d even make sure you road in the cargo hold with the other “pets”

            “Everybody here thinks of money”

            Everybody in Russia is either a drunk or a whore. Which one are you, Boris?

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          You can’t buy my ticket back, since I had never held Russian citizenship. Although I’ve heard about a program that being lobbied in Russia right now, to call all professional Russian-speakers back, independently which part of the world they were born. Would be interesting to see. For me, the main obstacle is that they still don’t have a broad gun rights (although it got better under Putin) and worrisome justice system. Problem there is that defenses win only small amount of cases. Kind of like US right now. Police does right thing and being charged for it. But speaking of cars, they don’t have any problems polluting with v8s. In fact, they love their big engines.

          The only whores I know – Biden/son, Pelosi… did she get off her knees yet? So, I must be a drunk. But even then my understanding of events is clearer than many so-called “sober” people.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You seem to miss Putin, “your friend” and the motherland. You speak highly of them, but are constantly running down Americans, our constitution by implying that only “certain people” should have the right to vote

            You don’t seem to like it here, so I was just trying to help you go home. Daddy Putin must miss you

            Go home, please, our Russian troll quota is filled

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Lets do this. I will leave under one condition.. All those who came here illegally are thrown out, I will throw my legal papers. Believe me, I have places to go.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      It wouldn’t be safe for you to be driving when you should be looking at the advertisements emblazoned on that big fancy screen you paid extra for.

      “In 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… you can skip this ad and shift into drive.”

  • avatar
    gasser

    Thank goodness for this. On the Los Angeles freeways, this will allow for more shaving, make up application, face time conversations, and “bopping to the music” rather than paying attention to piloting 2 tons of steel at 70 mph. In urban areas there is no more “joy of driving”. We are just in separate cars of a not well connected commuter train.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    As pre-work for reading subsequent comments, I’m googling “cognitive dissonance”. Chuckle.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Given how badly most people drive I can’t wait for the computers to take over. I just need a button in my car that tells the computer driven car in front of me to get out of the way. So hopefully one sensor is a microphone to pick up the sound of my horn.

    Kidding aside some self driving features on highways could be helpful – like adaptive cruise and lane keeping, IE: GM’s Super Cruise. Constantly making small corrections seems like a good use of the technology. However once you pull off the highway then forget it as there are way too many variables to deal with.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      I own a Cadillac with Super Cruise…. it’s beyond just lane correction and adaptive cruise. It is able to go hands free for long distances on certain roadways. It also has a camera on the steering column and infrared scanners to assure you are engaged and watching the roadway. The system will warn you to take control of the car in a series of warnings and if you don’t, it will bring the car to a stop and engage the hazard flashers.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Numbers – I like numbers:
    • Ford “Active Drive Assist” testing miles: 650,000 (equivalent to 43 vehicles each driving 15,000 miles)
    • Cadillac “Super Cruise” customer miles driven: 5,500,000 (equivalent to 366 vehicles each driving 15,000 miles)
    • Tesla “Autopilot” customer miles driven: 3,000,000,000 (equivalent to 200,000 vehicles each driving 15,000 miles)

    [650K/3B = 0.02%]

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. Yeah Ford has no customer driven miles because it hasn’t been released yet.

      Cadillac’s system doesn’t have as many customer driven miles as Tesla is due in part to the fact that it was introduced later and by the fact that it only works on mapped roads.

      However the numbers I’m more concerned with are how many times has the system driven the car into a stopped emergency vehicle or a lane divider? So far I’ve yet to hear of a Caddilac killing its driver by running into a massive solid object at speed with no apparent braking.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        His point is Tesla has far more real world data than GM and Ford. According to his post, both the latter cannot muster the equivalent of 1,000 vehicles to Tesla’s 200,000 in 15K customer miles driven.

      • 0 avatar
        BrentinWA

        I love to drive, and I really like having Super Cruise too. If you’ve ever driven I-90 in Eastern Washington, it’s a nice feature to have for about 3 hours between Seattle and Spokane.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Are these numbers significant less than the other 2 systems had at their introduction? That is really all that matters here. Plus even with the most miles under their belt Teslas still malfunction and kill their drivers at a rate similar to the Pinto given the numbers sold so yeah, not really meaningful unless you have some blind hatred for all things Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        I don’t know what number of testing miles the other OEM’s had at introduction. I applaud Ford for the “650,000 miles of real-word testing”. But we have to keep that number in perspective. Do their “far-flung places” and “rare-case sensor measurements” include the back roads of Alabama with owners who abuse their personal lease vehicles like a short-term rental? I don’t know.

        “That is really all that matters here” – but then you throw other things on the table. (One day I might learn to straddle the fence on every issue as effectively as you seem to… shudder.)

        I addressed your Pinto comparison when you first brought it up, so won’t revisit it here. But while we’re delving into history, more recently Firestone Wilderness AT tires and the Ford Explorer seem to be about 90 times more effective than Tesla’s Autopilot at ‘malfunctioning and killing their drivers.’

        I have no blind hatred for Ford. I do have a strong general preference for other OEM’s based on real-world experience and data. (That could change with Ford’s new generation of EV’s and modern tech.) You seem to have a blind hatred for Tesla *and* a chip on your shoulder regarding all things Ford.

        [If I were William Clay Ford or Jim Hackett watching you spring to Ford’s defense in these pages, I would be inclined to slip you an ‘ixnay’ note, because you tend to bring up some fairly unflattering information in the process of ‘defending’ them.]

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    Ford can’t even make a decent infotainment system – now they’re putting a drive-in theater screen in a car, writing some ambitious software to try to convince the driver that the car can “almost” drive itself, and it’s supposed to work reliably? What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Distracted driving is being caused by the idiotically sized screen in this press shot.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Possibly, this was planned all along. Since some people out there recognized that drivers will use their cell phones this way or another, they told manufacturers to create such infotainment so that drives will forget about cell phones. And now they can look at these screens, at least partially looking at the road.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Ah, Mach-E. The game changer supposed to debut in 2020 as an MY21 but I guess now we’re targeting 2021 for sales as… MY22s perhaps?

    “The Mustang Mach-E is built on the Global Electrified 1 (GE1) platform which is a heavily reworked version of the C2 platform that is used on the fourth generation Focus and third generation Kuga/fourth generation Escape.”

    So it will have all of the handling, geometry, and prowess as a mommy-mobile.

    “Unlike the ICE Mustang models, the Mach E will not be assembled in the United States. Rather, it will be produced in Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico.”

    Hecho in Mexico for your 43 to 60,5 [!?!] large.

    “According to Ford CEO Jim Hackett, assembling the vehicle in Mexico will allow Ford to make a profit from the first vehicle, unlike other electric vehicles”

    So 5% on 25K examples for how many billions invested? Assuming it actually gets delivered… now in 2021 I suppose…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Mustang_Mach-E

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    I own a Cadillac CT6 with the Super Cruise. I was initially resistant to even buying a car with it, but now I am glad that I have it. I say that even though I LOVE to drive.

    I took a 3300 mile road trip the week of Memorial Day over 8 days and 9 Western US States. The Super Cruise system allowed for me to engage the hands off driving on divided highway interstate highway driving in the rather boring stretches and it prevented a lot of seat fatigue. I was able to toss the car around in the fun parts of the drive and on some really open stretches, stretch the legs out and open the wastegate for long periods.

    Super Cruise tops out at a set 85 MPH but you can nudge the pedal with your foot should the need arise to surpass that speed. The system will disengage at speeds much higher than that, but I cannot quantify that exact number. The system will also disengage if you are not paying attention to the roadway and situations; the system scans your eyes to make sure you are watching and that you are watching the right area. If you do not pay enough attention, the LED bar on the steering wheel flashes, if you still don’t pay attention, it will flash red and disengage, bringing the car to a stop and turning on the hazard flashers. Once you take manual control of the car, the slowdown/shutdown ceases and the car returns to normal. It’s a great system.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I have no dog in this hunt, but I do have two questions:
    a) The large touch screen was deemed by many to be stupid when Tesla did it. Is it smart now that Ford is doing it?
    b) By my read, you pay for the hardware now and get the functionality later. When Tesla does this it is deemed by many to be theft. Is it ok when Ford uses the same approach?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

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