Ford’s Co-Pilot 360™ technology is available on all 2021 and 2022 Ford models, though the levels of automation vary among them. This driver-assist technology is a Level 2 autonomous system and brings Ford closer to its goal of fully autonomous fleet vehicles.
The auto industry is all about self-driving cars right now, but how much has this technology developed, and when will we see autonomous vehicles on the road?
Not all carmakers are rushing to create the first fully autonomous car like Tesla is, but most of the producers you know and love are improving on their driver-assist technology. They hope by making slow but steady improvements, they will eventually create self-driving cars.
Does Ford have a self-driving car?
In a nutshell, no, Ford doesn’t have a self-driving car yet.
To expand on that, Ford is focusing on slowly building its active driver-assist systems (ADAS) to the level of full automation. Ford’s long-term goal is to produce fleet vehicles used for
ride-hailing and last-mile deliveryservices with a major focus on safety.
Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 program differs from Tesla’s Autopilot in that it uses a driver-facing camera to ensure the driver keeps their eyes on the road at all times. Tesla’s Autopilot uses sensors to detect if a hand is present on the wheel, though this system has been fooled by simple weights before.
Co-Pilot 360 is a Level 2 autonomous system, which isn’t capable of driving the car on its own. It does, however, help the driver and car work together for a safer, smoother ride. Some aspects of the technology include self-parking and hands-free cruise control on designated highways.
Ford offers some level of Co-Pilot 360 on most of its 2021 and 2022 models. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the duties Co-Pilot 360 can perform:
- Keeping your car in the center of the lane.
- Automatic braking if the driver doesn’t react quickly enough.
- Automatic high beam activation.
- Hands-free parking for tight parallel or perpendicular spaces.
- Warning system for imminent collisions.
- BlueCruise for hands-free cruise control.
You won’t be able to take your eyes off the road for too long with BlueCruise because of Ford’s monitoring system, but you won’t have to focus as much on the road as you do when driving with Level 0 autonomous driving.
Ford is slowly rolling out its Co-Pilot 360 program for consumers and is charging ahead with its
autonomous fleet vehicle servicesin collaboration with
Argo AI. Ford is planning to release its fourth-generation autonomous Ford Escape Hybrid in Austin, Detroit, Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburg, and Washington, D.C. The release date of its partnerships with Lyft and Walmart was delayed until later in 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ford has also
committed to investingseven billion dollars towards the research of self-driving vehicles by 2025.
Key Takeaway Most of Ford’s 2021 and 2022 models feature some level of self-driving technology.
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How do self-driving cars work?
The term “self-driving car” might make you think of a driverless car navigating everything from tight city streets to the open road, but the reality of this technology doesn’t quite line up with that image. Driverless technology is less futuristic than it is complicated.
A self-driving car has a wide variety of technology installed, like video cameras and LiDAR sensors. They use powerful algorithms and deep learning systems to monitor driving conditions and plan driving actions. Sometimes it can even perform certain driving functions without human assistance.
Self-driving cars use a combination of cameras and software to scan the environment and create a detailed 3D map. This map enables the car to “see” its surroundings and make informed decisions.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has established the six levels of autonomous vehicles:
- Level 0: There is no automation and all the driving is done by a human.
- Level 1: Driver assistance is present for one task at a time, like steering, acceleration, or braking, while the human controls everything else.
- Level 2: Two or more functions are automated, though the driver must stay fully engaged. Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 is at Level 2.
- Level 3: Conditionally automated so that the car can fully drive itself under certain conditions, but the human needs to be prepared to regain control. Ford’s BlueCruise is at Level 3.
- Level 4: The car can drive itself under certain conditions without human intervention.
- Level 5: Fully automated—the car can drive itself without human intervention.
Don’t expect to see a Level 5 car anytime soon, though many companies, including Ford, are working towards them. A big propellant of self-driving technology is safety, but the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)has said that fully autonomous vehicles might not prevent crashes the way they are expected to.
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The 12 aspects of Co-Pilot 360
The Ford models that offer Co-Pilot 360 don’t offer the same level of ADAS, but the term encompasses a variety of technologies. Here’s a rundown of what these technologies can offer:
- BlueCruise: Ford’s most sophisticated technology enables the vehicle to self-drive on 130,000 miles of pre-approved divided highways in the US. The car can steer itself, speed up, and slow down without the driver’s intervention. The driver must keep their eyes on the road, however, and this is monitored through an infrared camera that can see through sunglasses and even recognize faces through face masks.
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert: Not only does this technology detect vehicles in your blind spot, but it also detects traffic behind you when backing out of a parking spot or driveway at a low speed.
- Lane-Keeping System: This system alerts you if you’re drifting to the edge of your lane.
- Pre-Collision Assist with Emergency Braking: This will alert you to an imminent collision and will apply the brake if you don’t react quickly enough.
- Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control: Recognizes and adjusts to speed limit signs, and slows or stops for traffic ahead. It can resume the set speed after traffic clears. It also keeps your vehicle centered in the lane, though you can turn this feature off.
- Evasive Steering Assist: If the system’s warnings go off and you need to swerve to avoid something in your path, this tech provides extra steering support.
- Rearview camera: This technology comes standard on most modern vehicles. It is only activated when traveling under six mph.
- Active Park Assist 2.0: When you approach a parallel parking space, shift into neutral and hold down the button. The vehicle will then park itself.
- Auto High Beam Headlamps: This detects low-light situations and automatically activates your high beams. It then detects oncoming headlights and automatically dims the lamps until the cars have passed.
- BLIS with Trailer Coverage: This provides all the tech of the BLIS, but with the added benefit of seeing if there is anything alongside the trailer you’re towing.
- Pro Trailer Backup Assist: If you’re backing up with a trailer in tow, all you need to do is rotate the knob in the direction you want the trailer to go. The automated system takes care of the rest.
- Hill Descent Control: This maintains your set speed when traveling downhill by auto-applying the brakes.
Over 20 Ford models come with Co-Pilot 360 technology as standard or an additional option.
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