Along with GM and BMW Group, Ford is set to join the list of American automakers producing hands-free driving technology in 2021. Debuting on the brand’s 2021 models, namely the electric Mustang Mach-E, the hands-free driving tech will be called “Active Drive Assist”, and will be integrated into Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver assist technology

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Active Drive Assist hands-free driving overview

Once Active Drive Assist rolls out, Ford will join GM and BMW Group on this growing list of car manufacturers using hands-free driving tech. However, what makes this move by Ford stand out in particular is that it will be the first mass-market brand to offer this hands-free driving tech to US consumers. As of now, GM’s Super Cruise and BMW’s Extended Traffic Jam Assistant are only available for each automaker’s luxury lineup. This is likely to change soon, as GM reportedly has plans to integrate driverless tech beyond Cadillac

Consumers who purchase the 2021 Mustang Mach-E will have to order the Ford Co-Pilot 360 2.0 Prep Package to get the necessary hardware. Then, sometime in the third quarter of 2021 they can expect to receive the software via an over-the-air update. Early adopters will also receive Ford’s Active Park Assist 2.0. This will allow the vehicle to control parking in certain parallel and perpendicular spaces at the push of a button. 

Details & pricing

Many assume driverless tech allows them to not pay attention to the road at all. They think drivers can sleep, eat, and use their phones while the car does all of the work. That’s actually not the case when it comes to the state of hands-free driving today. For example, Ford’s Active Drive Assist makes sure that you’re still paying close attention, even when the technology is active. An infrared camera facing the driver helps ensure this by tracking the position of the driver’s head and eyes (even through sunglasses). If the technology detects that you’re not paying attention, it will alert you and decrease your speed to prevent accidents. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford’s Active Drive Assist will reportedly offer drivers help with detecting road edges in more rural areas. It will even move the steering wheel if it detects that you’re drifting toward adjacent traffic. As with most driverless technology, they’re constantly testing and updating the software. Ford has promised that Mach-E drivers may have the potential to receive more enhancements in the future. 

As of yet, Ford has not revealed any pricing when it comes to the Mach-E or its Active Driver Assist. We expect more details will be rolled out closer to the release date. 

Hands-free driving technology has come a long way in the past decade. Still, we’re nowhere near to truly “driverless” tech – which is likely a good thing, in retrospect. Still, it is fascinating to see how automakers across the US are integrating this new tech into their new models.

For more auto news well beyond hands-free driving, be sure to bookmark us at Headlights.com

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    6 Comments

    1. This is so amazing. I love that it ensures you are still an active driver who is paying attention to the road. My worry was that automated driving would encourage more careless driving. But this seems to be just the opposite. The drive assist will simply make things a little safer for everyone hopefully by catching basic human error. Plus seeing less terrible and crooked parking is a huge plus. I am very interested to see how things continue to play out with this kind of technology.

    2. Hands free it sound cool. As long as it’s optional and not mandatory. Im still loving being able to manually drive.

    3. They are going to have speakers on the outside of the electric mustang to simulate the sound of an engine revving

    4. In Europe, there is minimum low speed decibel level a vehicle must make to prevent pedestrians from being unexpectedly hit by a car.

    5. Pretty cool, but still a little scary. Not sure I am ready to let the car drive me yet.

    6. Any kind of automation to assist in driving is definitely a boon. There’s too many people out there who are wrongfully convinced of their own abilities, and anything that makes us all safer is a net positive.

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