Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 technology now includes hands-free driving, over-the-air updates and more

John Gilchrist, Mustang Mach-E engineer, demonstrates Active Drive Assist, a new driver-assist feature that allows for hands-free driving on more than 160,000 kilometres of divided highways in Canada and the U.S. An advanced infrared driver-facing camera ensures the driver remains attentive while hands are off the wheel.

Ford Co-Pilot 360 Technology—a comprehensive collection of available driver-assist features—now includes Active Drive Assist, which allows for hands-free driving on more than 160,ooo kilometres of divided highways in Canada and the U.S. Driver-assist features are supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgment and need to control the vehicle. It does not replace safe driving.

“The stress of long highway drives remains a huge issue for drivers around the world,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer. “By introducing driver-assist technologies like Active Drive Assist, Ford’s version of hands-free driving, we’re allowing our customers to feel more confident whenever they’re behind the wheel.”

Active Drive Assist is the next evolution of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering from Ford, adding a first-for-Ford Hands-Free Mode with the potential for more enhancements in the future.

Hands-Free Mode allows drivers on certain sections of pre-mapped, divided highways to drive with their hands off the steering wheel—if they continue to pay attention to the road ahead—granting them an additional level of comfort during long drives.

An advanced infrared driver-facing camera will track eye gaze and head position to ensure drivers are paying attention to the road while in Hands-Free Mode as well as hands-on Lane Centering Mode, which works on any road with lane lines. Drivers will be notified by visual prompts on their instrument cluster when they need to return their attention to the road or resume control of the vehicle.

Active Drive Assist  begins rolling out on select 2021 model year Ford vehicles and will be available across the Mustang Mach-E lineup.

For those customers among the first to order a Mustang Mach-E, Active Drive Assist hardware will be available as part of the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package at time of purchase.

Ford plans to give customers who purchase the prep package the opportunity to purchase Active Drive Assist software and receive the feature at a Ford dealer or via an over-the-air update expected in the third quarter of 2021.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package also includes Active Park Assist 2.0, the latest iteration of park-assist technologies to give drivers some peace of mind when parking their Mustang Mach-E. With Active Park Assist 2.0, simply holding a button will allow the vehicle to take control of parking in parallel and perpendicular spaces with ease.

It also offers Park Out Assist with side-sensing capability so drivers can confidently navigate out of a parking spot when someone’s parked too close.

Ford has put Active Drive Assist through its paces to create a driving experience that customers can be confident in – one that’s actually hands-free as long as the driver-facing camera can monitor head position and eye gaze instead of relying only on monitoring driver attention through steering wheel grip, as other systems do.

Active Drive Assist test vehicles have been subjected to the Mother of All Road Trips, exposing its sensors to snow, rain, bright sun, dark nights, traffic jams and open roads over hundreds of thousands of kilometres across Canada, the U.S., and Europe in an attempt to expose the sensors to a variety of extremely specific scenarios—or grey areas—so the technology is as ready to handle the array of real-world conditions drivers face daily.