Ford refines, advances its driver-assist technologies

John Gilchrist, Mustang Mach-E engineer, demonstrates Active Drive Assist, which will allow for hands-free driving on divided highways. The technology will first be available as an option package on certain 2021 vehicles, including the Mustang Mach-E. (Ford)

Updates to Co-Pilot360 include hands-free driving, over-the-air updates

Ford Motor announced today that its driver-assist technology, Ford Co-Pilot360, will be updated with Active Drive Assist to allow hands-free driving on divided highways. The enhanced system will compare to the semi-self-driving technologies in Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot.

The added feature is the next evolution of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, with the potential for future enhancements, Ford said in a release.

Active Drive Assist is integrated with a driver-facing camera that will track head position and the driver’s eyes, even while wearing most sunglasses. Drivers will be notified by visual prompts on the instrument cluster to return their attention to the road or resume control of the vehicle.

The optional technology, Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package, will first be offered with the electric Mustang Mach-E, on sale later this year, followed by select 2021 models, Ford said. The package includes camera and radar hardware with the ability to separately purchase Active Drive Assist as an over-the-air software update next year. Pricing will be announced closer to on-sale dates for 2021 model year vehicles, Ford said.

A series of graphics and indicators were created to let drivers know when the system is engaged — and when it’s not. (Ford)

Ford said its engineers and test drivers have accumulated more than 650,000 miles testing the radar- and camera-based features.

“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,” Justin Teems, Active Drive Assist feature lead, said in the release.

Co-Pilot360 refinements

Several other semi-autonomous driving technologies were also updated for Co-Pilot360. Among them:

Active Park Assist: The latest iteration of Active Park Assist (part of the Active 2.0 Prep Package) will allow the vehicle to park itself in parallel and perpendicular spaces. It also offers Park Out Assist so drivers can navigate out of a parking spot when another vehicle is parked too close.

Road Edge Detection and Blind Spot Assist: Road Edge Detection can sense the edges of a lane with visible lines or a road with a clear edge, such as grass or dirt. The technology can then alert the driver if the vehicle starts to drift out of the lane or off the road. Blind Spot Assist was updated to give a nudge to the steering wheel to alert the driver, along with the warning light in the side mirror.

Intersection Assist: Camera and radar sensor technologies in the pre-collision system will be able to detect oncoming traffic attempting to turn left. If there’s a risk of a potential collision with an oncoming vehicle, the vehicle can alert the driver and apply the brakes.

Lane-Keeping: The updated system is now integrated with automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot information with cross-traffic alert, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, post-collision braking, rearview camera, reverse brake assist and reverse sensing system. The technologies will be among the Co-Pilot360 2.0 standard package for Mustang Mach-E.

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