Ford Goes Hands-Free, Promising Relaxed - but Not Distracted - Cruising in 2021
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.
The Great Self-driving Revolution Gets a Language Check
Words have the power to inform or mislead. The descriptors “military grade” or “assault-style” did great things for public acceptance of a recent Canadian gun ban, prompting legions of voters to believe the government just banned once-legal, high-capacity machine guns. The reality was far different, of course.
In the automotive world, critics of the haphazard roll-out of certain advanced driving aids have long railed against the use of words like “autonomous,” “semi-autonomous,” and “self-driving” when referring to systems that most certainly are not fully autonomous. It seems the Associated Press agrees with their arguments.
It’s a win for clarity.
Curb Your Acceleration: Aging Drivers Spur Toyota Into Action
A rising number of elderly drivers — and pedal misapplication crashes — in its home market has compelled Toyota to engineer a solution.
The automaker announced Monday that a new “acceleration suppression function” combining data collected from real-word driving and its existing Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver-assist features will determine, and intervene, when a driver hits the wrong pedal.
Would You Trust Your Car to Drive Itself, Sans Occupant?
As you read here yesterday, Tesla’s biggest over-the-air software update to date has brought Model S, X, and 3 owners a host of new features, with an especially ominous (or exciting, depending on your level of trust) feature reserved for the true believers.
That Software Version 10.0 feature is Smart Summon — a way of getting your vehicle to drive to you upon exiting a building. Open the mobile app on your phone, press the necessary buttons, and your Tesla will pilot itself like the Mary Celeste to your arranged rendezvous point. Presumably, you’ll have your hands full of children and shopping, though Tesla says you’ll have to keep tabs on your vehicle — keeping it in in your field of vision — lest you find yourself liable for a fender-bender or worse.
It kind of defeats the purpose of the feature. If your attention is distracted by whiny kids or something else, how is it more convenient (or even possible) to stand there and watch your car make its way towards you, alert and ready to release that button and stop the Tesla in the event of a wayward shopper, vehicle, or rogue action on the part of your own car? How hard is it to walk over and get into your own car and drive off, especially considering the feature’s beta nature and Tesla’s long list of Autopilot fails?
Naturally, owners began testing Smart Summon the second it arrived.
NTSB Report Reveals Overconfidence in Tesla's Autopilot Led to Crash
Years of boasting from Tesla over the capabilities of its Autopilot driver-assist system — boasts the automaker dialed back after a series of fatal crashes — are in part responsible for a Culver City, California crash in January 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board states in a new report. Driver-assist features aim to make the monotonous task of driving easier, with the most advanced systems allowing users to take their hands off the wheel for varying periods of time.
Tesla’s system, which doesn’t employ the driver-monitoring camera fielded by Cadillac’s Super Cruise, is not as rigorous at ensuring the driver actually pays attention to the road ahead as its main rival. Videos of sleeping Tesla drivers continue to show up on the internet. Is it the driver’s fault for misusing the system, or the automaker’s for designing a system that’s ripe for abuse? The NTSB says it’s both.
Consumer Reports Slams Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot Update, Calls System 'Far Less Competent' Than a Human Driver
In this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest things to happen to high-speed motoring is the blind spot monitoring system. Try as we might to religiously check our mirrors and peer over our shoulders before each lane change, there’ll always be that time we half-ass it, just as an unseen car creeps up in the shadow of our B- or C-pillar. BSM can be a savior.
However, handing over the entire lane-change process to a combination of software and sensors, at least in Tesla vehicles, is far, far worse than doing it yourself, Consumer Reports claims. After giving the latest update to Tesla’s “Navigate on Autopilot” feature a shakedown cruise on the highways of Connecticut, the consumer advocacy group handed the system a failing grade.
Nissan's ProPilot Aims to Get Your Hands Off the Wheel, but Only Just
Will online videos soon emerge showing Nissan drivers taking naps or hopping into the backseat while underway? Maybe, but Nissan hasn’t been as cavalier as Tesla in playing up the abilities of its driver-assist technology. Now that an upgraded system that’s on par with General Motors’ Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot is on the way, the automaker remains cautious.
ProPilot 2.0, as the name implies, is the next generation version of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist technology, and it differs from the first-gen system in one big way: drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel.
Ford's Next-Gen Driver Assist Will Deny You the Right of Running People Over
How many times have you nearly backed your car over a child that was too short to see through your rear window? If the answer is more than once, you’re probably getting more than just a little tired of dealing with angry parents.
Fortunately, Ford has announced that its next generation of driver assistance technology will include self-stopping pedestrian detection. The automaker also plans to offer vehicles with enhanced “evasive steering” assist, aided cross-traffic negotiation, and advanced self-parking. While these safety features sound great in theory, they may forbid drivers from using their vehicle as a deadly weapon on public roads — at least on their own terms.