Ford Motor Co said Thursday that it will integrate hands-free driving in select vehicles starting from 2021. With Active Drive Assist, Ford joins Tesla and other car manufacturers
that have already debuted such vehicles. Tesla introduced its first self-driving vehicle six years ago.

Hands-Free Mode allows drivers on certain sections of pre-mapped, divided highways to drive with their hands off the steering wheel. An advanced infrared driver-facing camera will track eye gaze and head position to ensure drivers are paying attention to the road while in Hands-Free Mode as well as hands-on Lane Centering Mode, which works on any road with lane lines.

Drivers will be notified by visual prompts on their instrument cluster when they need to return their attention to the road or resume control of the vehicle.

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“Introducing Active Drive Assist with a driver-facing camera makes perfect sense because the vehicle helps relieve the stress and burden of driving but still leaves you fully in control,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer. “And if you lose focus on the road ahead, Active Drive Assist will automatically warn and potentially slow the vehicle down until you’re ready to focus back up.”

Ford plans to give customers who purchase a Mustang Mach-E the opportunity to purchase Active Drive Assist software and receive the feature at a Ford dealer or via an over-the-air update expected in the third quarter of 2021.