The race to autonomous vehicles seems to mean different things to different manufacturers, and even to different divisons/companies within an organization. Tesla seeks to offer full self-driving, with no human aid under most circumstances on any road. Others (such as Cruise and Waymo) offering driverless options tend to work within certain geographic areas (geofencing). Ford and GM are both offering hands-free ADAS, but still require the driver to keep their eyes on the road and be ready to take over if the system tells them it’s losing track.
But, these more limited approaches doesn’t mean incremental improvements and advances are out of the question going forward. Geofenced systems can expand their service areas. GM’s Supercruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise can expand to work on more highways. And, other features we might not have thought of are definitely on the table.
We’re seeing that happen with Ford as it announced some new BlueCruise features earlier this month. The new BlueCruise 1.2* and Lincoln ActiveGlide 1.2 release will come with lane changing features, as well as other system updates to create more of a human-like driving feel. The new system will be available on new vehicles from the factory this fall, beginning with the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
“We are investing in our ADAS team to constantly improve BlueCruise and ActiveGlide for our customers,” said Doug Field, Chief EV & Digital Systems Officer, Ford Model e. “The latest improvements allow customers to command lane changes using just a turn signal, and make hands-free driving feel more human-like by smoothly slowing down for turns, and giving more room to large vehicles in neighboring lanes. These improvements are just the beginning of a constant journey toward improving safety and, in the future, giving customers valuable time back.”
BlueCruise 1.2 and ActiveGlide 1.2 will include three new features:
- With Lane Change Assist, drivers have an easier time changing lanes while using BlueCruise. If the driver taps the turn signal, the system will automatically change lanes for them. In addition, if a driver is following slow-moving traffic, the system may suggest that they switch to another lane.
- Predictive Speed Assist immediately, and automatically, adjusts the speed as drivers approach a sharp curve and will notify the driver ahead of time when a change in speed is imminent, so they know why the vehicle is slowing.
- In-Lane Repositioning allows hands-free road driving to seem more natural, keeping the car in its lane while gradually moving it away from vehicles in adjacent lanes – especially useful when next to bigger automobiles such as semis.
In addition to making its Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) more humanistic, Ford says its engineers are constantly striving to deliver better visuals, sensing experiences, and steering. Ford is also committed to updating maps with over-the-air changes that identify prequalified sections of highways where BlueCruise can be used; as of now, there are 130,000 miles meeting these qualifications.
Once a road has been qualified, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles will sense the conditions and help confirm that the lane lines are visible. The driver’s eyes must be on the road, and other conditions appropriate for hands-free driving must met before transitioning to hands-free driving mode. To communicate that this feature is now in hands-free mode, there are animated cluster transitions with text as well as blue lighting cues — both of which can be easily seen by those who have color blindness.
In total, 75,000 Ford and Lincoln drivers are enrolled in BlueCruise and ActiveGlide, with more than 16 million hands-free driving miles accumulated through August.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.