Contrary to what you might think, Ford isn't ignoring autonomous and driver assist systems, it just hasn't talked about them too much recently. As part of its Ford Uncovered event at its Michigan headquarters in Dearborn, the automaker announced its Co-Pilot360 automation suite. The plan is to make automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection, blind spot avoidance, a lane keeping system, automatic high-beam headlamps and backup cameras standard equipment across most of its trucks and SUVs by 2020. If you want a peek at the tech, this fall the Ford Edge and Edge ST will arrive on showrooms with it.
Let's run through these features, shall we? The emergency braking system was designed to keep you from hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle because you weren't paying attention to the road, or someone jumped off the sidewalk in front of your bumper. Ford says that before the auto-brake kicks in, an alert will sound in the cabin and there will be warning flashes. If you don't react fast enough, the car will automatically apply the brakes. By 2020, Ford promises 91 percent of its offerings will have this feature.
A lane-keeping system will vibrate the steering wheel when your car notices you're riding too close to lane-markers on the road, and applies steering torque to re-center your auto. There's also a more aggressive function that employs a front-facing camera to detect when you're doing a bad job at being an "attentive" driver, and will flash lights and play sounds to get your eyes back on the road (or fully open).
The blind spot detection system uses radar to detect when another vehicle enters, well, your blind spot. The alert will come in the form of a light on the side-view mirror. Other automakers including Nissan have something like this in place already, but the light is inside the cabin, near the rear-view mirror. Ford also teased additional, optional driver-assist features would become available, without naming what they would be.
While this sounds like great tech for you and me, the truth is, it could be even more valuable for long-haul and commercial drivers. Ford says that these technologies will also be available across its E-series, F-650, F-750 and F-59 delivery truck line.
With this announcement, it shows that Ford is inching us closer to a world where every vehicle on the road has assistive technologies, not just those owned by folks who want bleeding edge tech in their cars. That's not to say that these standard features won't increase the sticker price (they almost assuredly will), it's just that they'll be hard to avoid when you're buying a new ride.