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From Car and Driver:


The feature is designed to seamlessly take over highway driving.


Active Drive Assist HMI

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Alisa PriddleWordsManufacturerPhotosMotorTrend StaffPhotos
Jun 18, 2020
Tesla's Autopilot is the best-known (thought-to-be) hands-free highway driving system out there, followed by Super Cruise, which General Motors introduced on the 2018 Cadillac CT6. Of course, only the Caddy system is truly hands-free—the Tesla setup, despite popular assumptions, requires periodic hand-to-steering-wheel contact to keep the driver-assist going, otherwise it deactivates.

Ford has studied these (and other self-steering lane-keep and adaptive cruise functions) closely and thinks it can do better. When the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric crossover SUV goes on sale by the end of the year, customers can get the crossover with the hardware needed for many miles of hands-free driving, self-parking, and other enhancements coming for the ever-evolving Ford Co-Pilot360 collection of driver-assist features. It's worth noting, though, that none of these systems promises to make the autonomous or self-driving, but rather will automate steering, throttle, and brakes in certain conditions while the driver continues to carefully monitor the road and the car.
Active Drive Assist
Active Drive Assist

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In a call with reporters, Ford officials explained why they think their system will be the best yet for customers. For starters: The name. Taking a dig at Tesla, which has been criticized for calling its system Autopilot and then being surprised when drivers treat it like autopilot (resulting in some disastrous accidents), Ford is being careful with its words. "We carefully select names for features that don't overpromise that they can do more than they can," Chris Billman, a Ford driver-assist engineer, said. The automaker feels its system, called Active Drive Assist, is more accurately named.


The other difference that Ford thinks will separate Active Drive Assist from the pack, is the ease with which drivers will be able to engage and disengage the system, Darren Palmer, Ford's global director for battery-electric vehicles, said. Some systems force the driver to almost wrestle back 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 perceptible as Active Drive Assist smoothly adjusts steering or braking during system switchover.


Hands-Free Mode
A new Hands-Free mode allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on pre-mapped, divided highways as long as the person behind the wheel continues to pay attention to the road ahead. An advanced driver-facing infrared camera tracks the driver's eyes and head position in Hands-Free mode, as well as when hands-on Lane Centering mode is engaged, which works on any road with lane lines. The addition of this new camera is key, Billman said. It is in addition to the cameras and radar already dotting the car.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach E 03
2021 Ford Mustang Mach E 03

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Palmer said much time and effort went into graphics and messaging that informs the driver of the state of the technology, with animated pictures, such as a graphical protective bubble around the car that denotes the computers are at the wheel. Warnings will be clear when the driver must pay better attention or assume control, otherwise, the vehicle will slow down until the driver is re-engaged. Billman said the screens will also alert drivers when they have entered a hands-free zone, with animations showing it is alright to let go of the steering wheel. The graphics were well received in customer clinics, he said, which was important because some competitive systems have been criticized for being confusing.

To be fair, Ford has the benefit of time. Tesla's system has been on the road for many years, and it has continually worked to perfect it and introduce new features, including the ability to handle freeway interchanges and navigate intersections, the latter of which is still in its beta stage. GM has also enhanced Super Cruise and is working on Ultra Cruise, which will add hands-free driving in the city.


Phased Rollout On The Mach-E
The Ford timeline is to roll out 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 package includes all camera and radar hardware. The advanced infrared driver-facing camera even monitors those in the driver's seat with sunglasses on.
In summer 2021, customers will have a menu of software options they can purchase, including Active Drive Assist, which would be sent to the Mach-E as an over-the-air update. This follows the lead of Tesla, which sends over-the-air updates to its customers' cars. Palmer said every module in the Ford system was designed for over-the-air upgrades in order to ensure Mach-E customers always have access to the latest tech.













Mapped Miles Will Grow
Initially, Ford will offer hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada. By comparison, GM's Super Cruise system works on more than 200,000 miles of highway across North America, with GM continuing to expand the feature's geofenced area.
Ford engineers and test drivers have accumulated more than 650,000 miles testing tech such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot information systems with cross-traffic alert to ensure these radar- and camera-based features work in as many real-world scenarios as possible. The idea is to keep improving and be able to recognize and handle roads under construction. In time, the company plans to offer hands-free driving on far more than the initial 100,000 miles of highway it's currently greenlit.


May I Park That For You?
The other enhancement that Ford announced relates to its parking assist system. The Prep package also includes Active Park Assist 2.0, which allows the owner to simply hold a button to get the car in and out of tight parking spaces.
Even Mach-Es without the Prep package boasts a number of enhancements. The Co-Pilot360 2.0 standard package adds a road edge detection feature to the car's lane-keeping system. The feature is designed to work in rural areas lacking visible road lines and alerts the driver if the vehicle drifts toward the edge of the road. Meanwhile, the Mach-E's blind-spot assist will nudge the crossover back into its lane if it detects a vehicle in the blind spot during a lane-change maneuver.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach E 01
2021 Ford Mustang Mach E 01

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These additions are on top of the features Ford already puts in its Co-Pilot safety system, which includes automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, post-collision braking, and more. Ford also improved its adaptive cruise control system, which features stop-and-go functionality. While the driver once had to reactivate the function once the car came to a stop for three seconds, the person in the left seat now can let the car do the work of restarting if it's been stopped for less than 30 seconds. The system also recognizes speed signs now, and it's capable of applying the brakes when making a left turn at an intersection if the various sensors determine another vehicle has ignored a red light.
Competitively Priced
Ford is not releasing pricing yet for its latest additions to its Co-Pilot360 safety system, but Palmer said it will be highly competitive.

And while Ford is not sharing plans past the Mach-E debut, it's safe to assume the features will be rolled out to other future Ford vehicles. For now, Ford will only note that Active Drive Assist is due to roll out on select 2021 model year Ford vehicles and that the feature will be available across the Mustang Mach-E lineup. We'd guess the next-generation F-150, as well as the 2021 Ford Bronco and 2021 Bronco Sport, is a strong candidate for the feature.

see: https://www.motortrend.com/news/202...DA9B555E2966E087BDB2EF9577EEF94A3E77DB31FCDFA
 
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