The all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E performance crossover won’t just be breaking new ground for the Blue Oval in terms of powertrain technology. Ford has previously announced that it’ll be capable of over-the-air (OTA) updates. Now Ford tells us the Mach-E will have more rarified driver assist technology on offer, like a new-to-Ford Hands-Free Mode.
The hands-off driving is a feature of Active Drive Assist, which is essentially adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. It’s part of Ford’s larger Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance aids. Like GM's Super Cruise, Active Drive Assist allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel in certain situations, and Ford says it works on over 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada.
Hands-Free Mode is available on pre-mapped roads, and is aided by multiple driver-facing cameras to monitor head and eye position to ensure the driver still pays attention to the road. Ford says these infrared cameras work even when the user wears glasses or a face mask. With cruise control on, the system will alert the driver when they’re in a hands-free zone, and they can allow the Mach-E to take over steering in addition to acceleration and braking.
To get hands-free driving, customers must purchase the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package, which includes the necessary hardware for the feature. The system will be enabled via an OTA update when the software becomes available in the third quarter of 2021. In the meantime, customers will be able to enjoy the included Active Park Assist 2.0, allowing the driver to enter or exit parking space with a push of a button.
Ford Co-Pilot360 also gets some other upgrades for the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E. As standard, its lane detection system gets road edge detection capability to better keep you in your lane. Its blind spot system can also help with a nudge to keep you from changing lanes toward another vehicle if you missed the warning. There’s also a new Intersection Assist feature that will initiate automatic emergency braking if there’s an oncoming car when making a left turn.
Another improvement: The stop-and-go adaptive cruise control will remain active for 30 seconds after coming to a stop, instead of requiring driver reactivation after three seconds of stoppage.
Ford hasn’t announced pricing for the Active Drive Assist system or the Prep Package containing the necessary hardware for Hands-Free Mode. It did say, however, that it won’t stop with the Mustang Mach E, and that we can expect to see this technology become available on other Ford vehicles in the 2021 model year.