Ford Launches New Pilot System To Compete With Tesla Autopilot

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Ford says its Active Drive Assist system will enable hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided freeways in the United States and Canada.Ford

Ford Motor’s response to advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla’s autopilot and General Motors Super Cruise is launched as automaker introduces major new or redesigned vehicles such as the Mustang all-electric crossover Chewed up.The company’s new “Active Drive Assist” will be part of the automaker’s “Co-Pilot360” safety and comfort technologies. Hardware for the hands-free driving system will be available for first order on the Mach-E later this year, followed by other vehicles “selected” for the 2021 model year, Ford announced on Thursday.

Customers will however have to wait until next year for the technology to be available on the Mach-E. The crossover, according to the company, will be “among the first” vehicles to receive the system in the third quarter of 2021 via a remote or live update, or at a dealership.

A Ford spokesperson declined to comment on which other vehicles the technology will be offered and their timelines. The automaker’s F-150 is probably a good candidate. Ford is unveiling a redesigned version of the pickup next week with a new electrical architecture, or brain, of the vehicle, which is a key catalyst for these technologies.

Ford’s Active Drive Assist is beginning to be deployed on select 2021 Ford model year vehicles and will be available across the Mustang Mach-E lineup.

Ford

Ford’s Active Drive Assist will control the speed, braking and steering of a vehicle through a system of cameras, radar and other sensors on more than 100,000 miles of divided roads in the United States and Canada. The system’s design and function are more like GM’s Super Cruise than Tesla’s autopilot.

GM and Ford systems will only work on pre-mapped routes. They also use a driver-oriented infrared camera on the steering column to monitor the driver’s attention for hands-free driving. Tesla’s system offers greater functionality and availability but does not use a camera and drivers must register by touching the steering wheel of the vehicle.

Ford officials say what will separate GM’s Active Driver Assist from Super Cruise will be how the system manages and interacts with drivers. The main physical difference is that the Ford system will communicate with drivers via a digital driver information screen rather than primarily through a light bar on the steering wheel of the vehicle.

“A lot of work has been done in this regard,” said Darren Palmer, global director of battery electric vehicles at Ford, at a press briefing. “We noticed when looking at the systems on sale that it can be a little confusing for customers. ”

Palmer said the system is “very smooth” and clearly communicates how the vehicle works, which is “important for building confidence.”

Active Drive Assist will be available in the entire Mustang Mach-E range. Ford said availability of the system on other nameplates will vary by vehicle.

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