The Mustang Mach-E is a new model that Ford announced last year and at launch, it was noted that it’ll be able to provide the driver with a hands-free driving mode. Sean O’Kane writes for The Verge how exactly this feature will function and how new car owners can get it. 

The end of 2020 will see the kick-off for the sale of the Mach-E, and there’ll be two variants available for customers to buy. People can purchase the original model of the Mach-E, but those who want the hands-free driving mode will need to pay some extra money for the “Active 2.0 rep Package”. It’s a forward-facing camera and radar sensors that allow your car to use a hand-free driving mode once it’s launched. “Active Drive Assist” is the name of the feature and you’ll be able to access it at the end of 2021.

Inside the car. Image credit: autoguide.com

When the time comes, owners will be able to test Ford’s improved advanced driver assistance system (ADA) – CoPilot 360. Engineers have added upgrades: lane centering, adaptive cruise control, active park assist, blind-spot assist, etc.

Until it’s ready, Active Drive Assist will be allowed on highways that Ford has previously mapped. There’ll be 100,000 miles of highways across 50 states and Canada available at launch. An infrared camera system in the steering wheel will act as an advanced digital controller to double-check whether the driver is following road rules. 

Ford doesn’t fuss to leave any comments about when they’re going to add additional highway miles, which is logical because they haven’t launched the feature yet. While Ford’s ADA is still in development, Cadillac’s Super Cruise system has around 200,000 highway miles.

The two companies are orienting on different attitudes on how to tell the driver when the feature is available: Super Cruise has a light system on the steering wheel, whereas Ford relies on the digital instrument cluster behind the Mach-E’s steering wheel. 

The driver will receive an animation on the screen when it’s available to switch to ADA and back. There will be a blue display when the car is in a zone where ADA is available and when it’s active, the car will be in a bubble on the display.

Blue color indicates the system is on. Image credit: screenrant.com

Darren Palmer, the head of Ford’s global EV division told The Verge that it was a challenge to find out which graphics, colors, and information to show, trying to understand what will be optimal for any driver.

It’s important to make the system feel less disturbance for the driver so as not to distract them from the road. Palmer said that you can gently move the steering wheel in case you want to switch the feature off.

“On at least one of the popular systems, you have to kind of ‘break free’ from it, and it’s very unnerving for people because they feel like they’re wrestling with it. And so we really wanted to make sure we didn’t have that,” he said.