- Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 receives improvements to existing advanced driving aids.
- Active Drive Assist is Ford’s new hands-free driving system.
- The new version of the company’s safety suite will be introduced on the Mustang Mach-E.
An enhanced version of the Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite will be introduced in the next-generation of the brand’s products, starting this year in the fully electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. And it will include hands-free driving capability.
Called Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0, the package builds on the existing suite that already offers blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, pre-collision assist with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, active park assist and automatic high beams and more.
The enhanced package adds Road Edge Detection, which senses the edges or a marked lane, or grass and dirt of a road, and alerts the driver that his or her vehicle is drifting out of its lane or into the shoulder or ditch. Blind Spot Assist will apply a slight nudge on the vehicle’s steering as a warning to avoid an unsafe manoeuvre. Both systems work in conjunction with the existing Lane Keep Assist System.
Meanwhile, the adaptive cruise control already included stop and go capability in heavy traffic, but in Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0, it can get the vehicle moving along again after being stopped for up to 30 seconds—instead of the current 3-second time limit, after which the driver had to press on the gas pedal. The system now includes traffic road sign recognition as well.
Also new is Intersection Assist, which uses cameras and sensors to detect if a left-hand turn in an intersection is safe. If it senses an oncoming vehicle—like a car that drove through a red light, for example—as a risk, it can warn the driver and even apply the brakes to avoid a collision. Intersection Assist works hand in hand with the Pre-Collision Assist and Automatic Emergency Braking programs.
The big news for the Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 suite is the addition of Active Drive Assist, a hands-free drive system that can be activated on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways across all 50 states and Canada.
Similar to GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot systems, Active Drive Assist can navigate the vehicle by itself thanks to all the aforementioned gadgets. “The stress of long highway drives remains a huge issue for drivers around the world,” stated Ford’s chief product and development officer Hau Thai-Tang. “By introducing driver-assist technologies like Active Drive Assist, Ford’s version of hands-free driving, we’re allowing customers to feel more confident whenever they’re behind the wheel.”
Of course, despite the capabilities of the Ford Co-Pilot 2.0 system, the automaker points out that drivers must remain attentive to what’s happening on the road ahead, and not fully rely on the system and start playing Candy Crush on their smartphones. Hence why it includes the word “assist” in its name. And to make sure the person behind the wheel is paying attention, a driver-facing camera is installed on the dashboard, which tracks eye gaze and head position. “And if you lose focus on the road ahead, Active Drive Assist will automatically warn and potentially slow the vehicle down until you’re ready to focus back up,” added Thai-Tang.
“After seven minutes of self-driving, people behind the wheel will start doing other tasks,” said Darren Palmer, Global Director for BEVs at Ford. The company also mentions that the transitions between manual and hands-free driving are smoother than with competitors’ systems, and their cameras don’t work as well with people wearing sunglasses.
In addition, the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0’s Active Drive Assist feature underwent more than 650,000 miles of testing across almost every state and in every weather condition, as well as with real customers. When activated, the system will clearly indicate it using the fully digital instrument panel in the Mach-E, using animated pics with a steering wheel and driver hands, along with a special blue colour scheme and “bubble” pictograms to show exactly what the system is monitoring.
Finally, Active Drive Assist will improve over time, as it will benefit from the Mustang Mach-E’s over-the-air update capability to add more compatible roads, more features or optimization for individual drivers. The system is also said to be trouble-free—if the update doesn’t install properly or a glitch occurs, the ADA will revert back to the previous version of the software, and won’t leave drivers stranded.
The suite is called Ford Co-Pilot Assist 2.0 without the hands-free driving program, which is an option. When selected, the suite becomes Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0. The latter will be standard on two range-topping trim levels of the Mustang Mach-E, and optional on the rest. Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0 will be offered as standard.
Active Drive Assist isn’t quite ready yet, and buyers who choose it in the Mach-E will need to purchase a prep kit that will install the necessary hardware. When the self-driving system is ready in 2021, Mach-E owners will be able to purchase the software, which will then be downloaded into the vehicle. The automaker hasn’t confirmed which future models will offer Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0, nor how much it will cost, but we’re pretty sure it will be available in the upcoming, 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck.