Self driving cars aren’t a thing, and won’t be mainstream for some time yet. But automakers are pushing to that reality with driver assist systems that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals for a certain amount of time, usually by combining adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. General Motors have taken it a step further with their SuperCruise system, mapping 6 million miles of roads in the US. Now Ford wants in on the action, and has just announced their own similar system, called Active Drive Assist, that will first be rolled out on the 2021 Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E.
At launch, the system will work on 100,000 miles of North American roads called hands free zones. From here, already implemented components of Ford’s CoPilot 360 (Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Stop-and-Go Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition) work to keep the vehicle centered in the lane, and keep up with the flow of traffic. When Hands-Free Mode is enabled, a gauge cluster mounted camera that tracks the driver’s eye gaze and head position ensures their focus is on the road. If they become distracted or the system requires driver takeover from an external source, a message will prompt in the gauge cluster.
Active Drive Assist will bean option on some 2021 Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E trim levels, and standard on others. For the F-150, it’s standard only on Limited models, and optional on Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models. The system comes standard on CA Route 1, Premium and First Edition Mustang Mach-E variants, and is optional on the Select trim level. While the system won’t be available until late 2021, customers that get a 2021 F-150 or Mach-E when they first come out next year can get the hardware installed at launch either as standard or through options packages.
Then, owners wishing to get the full Active Drive Assist with Hands-Free Mode can purchase the software for $600. Thanks to the F-150 and Mach-E’s over the air update capabilities, the software can be installed quickly and easily in the background. Once Active Drive Assist goes live, customers will be able to purchase the hardware and software in one package. Whenever you purchase the software, it’s goof for a 3 year period. Ford plans to continually roll out improvements and expand from the original 100,000 miles of compatible roads as time goes on, through OTA updates.