Ford Mustang Mach-E to offer hands-off driving tech next year

Ford is pitching the battery-powered Mustang Mach-E as a driver’s car worthy of the Mustang name, but it can do the steering for you, at least some of the time.

The electric utility vehicle is set to be the first Ford that offers its new Active Drive Assist feature. It’s an add-on to Ford’s latest CoPilot360 2.0 driver-aid suite that uses cameras, radar and GPS to control the car as the driver removes their hands from the wheel. Ford says it works on over 100,000 miles of well-mapped, divided highways, while a facial-recognition system makes sure they keep their eyes on the road as it steers the vehicle within a lane and controls its speed without running into any cars ahead.

It’s similar to Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which was launched in 2017 and can now be used on over 200,000 miles of highways. Mach-E customers need to order an optional hardware package with the equipment to make it work and then upgrade when the Active Driver Assist over-the-air software is available in the second half of 2021. Cadillac is planning to update Super Cruise before then with the ability to change lanes with a flick of the turn signal stalk. Both brand’s systems have the ability to be upgraded with additional functionality in the future. Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" feature can handle more situations than either, but does not have facial recognition and technically requires the driver to touch the wheel to prove they are attentive.

Even without Active Drive Assist, Ford says the CoPilot360 2.0 system’s standard lane-keeping assist feature can better detect the edge of a road that doesn’t have lines painted on it -- which is useful in rural areas – and will nudge the wheel if you try to turn into a car in your blind spot.

Ford did not specify which models would be next to get Active Drive Assist.