CNBC just reported that Ford is trying to compete with Tesla and GM by launching its own driver-assist system to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise. Sort of. It’s called “Active Drive Assist” and will be able to control three major aspects of its vehicles:
Ford will do this through a system of cameras, radar, and sensors on 100,000 miles of pre-mapped divided highways in the US and Canada.
Active Drive Assist will be part of Ford’s “Co-Pilot 360” program. The hardware for the hands-free driving system should be available for purchase first on the Ford Mustang Mach-E this year. After that, Ford will have a list of other vehicles for its 2021 model year that will use the tech. Unfortunately for customers, they will have to wait until next year for Active Drive Assist to be available on the Mustang Mach-E.
CNBC noted that even though a Ford spokesman didn’t comment on which other vehicles the tech will be offered on, a great candidate is the F-150. The article also noted that Active Drive Assist will function more like GM’s Super Cruise than Tesla’s Autopilot. One main reason is that GM and Ford both will only operate on pre-mapped roads, whereas with Tesla, Autopilot has an AI system that can intelligently drive the vehicle and react like a human would in real-time.
Ford plans to stand out from GM’s Super Cruise with the way its system handles and interacts with drivers. One way is through a digital driver information screen instead of just a light bar on the steering wheel. During a media briefing, Darren Palmer, Ford’s global director of battery electric vehicles, said, “A huge amount of work was done in this respect. We noticed from reviewing systems on sale that it can be a little bit confusing to customers.”
I personally think it is a great thing that Ford is coming up with its own version of assisted driving. However, it’s not in full competition with Tesla’s Autopilot. One has to understand the difference between Autopilot and the other types of driver-assist technology.
Even though Autopilot is a type of technology that assists drivers on the road, it’s the first step for Tesla in its goal to complete “Full Self-Driving” vehicles. Autopilot, unlike Super Cruise, isn’t limited to a pre-mapped highway system. It’s also more advanced than typical driver-assist tech and is routinely improved via over-the-air software updates, and comparing it with Super Cruise or Ford’s new Active Drive Assist is similar to comparing bananas to plantains. Both are in the same species, but they are two different treats.
I think what I would like to see more from legacy automakers is the passion behind creating EVs. Ford has one EV coming, but for us to fully go in the direction of electrification, legacy automakers need to focus on electrifying their whole lineups, instead of pushing out a few new fossil fuel vehicle models each year. Like, make the 2021 Ford F-150 an EV only — and do this with every make and model vehicle from here on out. Without doing that, it’s hard to see their supposed commitment to society and it’s hard to see them not fall further and further behind in the new automotive era.
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