Bad driver? Ford wants to help. In the 21st century, the automaker isn’t simply manufacturing machines to get you from point A to point B — it’s also creating new technologies to make sure you get to your destination safely. This week, the company introduced Ford Co-Pilot360, heralded as the most advanced suite of standard driver-assist technologies to date.
Beginning in fall 2018, Ford Co-Pilot360 will begin making its debut in key markets across the world in order to “help customers drive more safely and confidently amid rising congestion and distractions,” the carmaker noted. The system includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot-information system, lane-keeping system, rear-backup camera, and auto high-beam lighting. Moreover, Ford will be offering further premium driver-assist technologies, like adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering, evasive steering assist, and post-collision braking. These features, however, will be exclusive to North America for the time being.
Next year, the company is slated to debut reverse brake assist so that you don’t hit a mailbox (or something worse) when backing out of your driveway or a parking spot. Ford Co-Pilot360 will roll out across Ford’s new passenger cars, SUVs and trucks up to F-150 in North America, starting on the new 2019 Ford Edge and Edge ST this fall.
“Though our vehicles today are safer than ever, drivers tell us they are still stressed about getting in a potential accident,” Jim Farley, Ford president, Global Markets, said in a statement. “That’s one reason why we’re making these must-have technologies accessible to millions of customers each year.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of Ford Co-Pilot360 is the standard automatic emergency braking — anytime a potential collision is detected, the system will flash a warning and sound an alert, and if your reaction time isn’t quite quick enough, your car will automatically pump the brakes in hopes of avoiding a collision. By 2020, this feature will become standard on 91 percent of Ford cars in North America.
Then, there is the blind spot-information system, or BLIS, which uses radar to determine if a vehicle is entering your blind spot, and alerts you via an indicator light in your side-view mirror. The lane-keeping system is impressive on three fronts — first, if you begin drifting too close to lane markings, Ford Co-Pilot360 will notify you via a steering wheel vibration. Second, the system will actually provide steering torque to steer your vehicle back toward to center of the lane. Finally, a driver alert system will continuously keep tabs on your driving patterns by leveraging a forward-looking camera, and will provide you with visual and audio warnings when you seem to be paying less attention than you ought to be.
This seems to be just the start when it comes to Ford’s efforts regarding driver-assist technologies. The company is investing $500 million over the course of the next five years to continue developing safety technologies. A primary goal will be to simplify the technology so that they are as intuitive to use as possible, Ford notes. “Many people question the idea of autonomous vehicles,” Farley said. “But those who use advanced driver-assist technologies today say they are more open to cars doing all of the driving in the future.”