There has been much written about autonomous vehicles where the vehicle drives itself and the occupants are just passengers.
While this technology is coming, drivers are still a critical part of vehicle control, now with driver assist features that make driving safer and more relaxing.
Ford’s new 2019 Edge is a great example of some of these new technologies.
You may have seen TV ads where grandma connects to her family by talking with Amazon’s Alexa.
You can ask Alexa questions, have her operate smart-home features and connect with family and friends.
Now on the 2019 Edge, Alexa can also connect with Ford Pass to connect to your vehicle. During a demonstration of these features, I talked with Alexa, asking her to open the garage door.
By asking Alexa to connect to FordPass, I asked Alexa to start the Edge.
Alexa speaks back asking for the four-digit security code and, when given, Alexa started the engine.
The security code was also needed when I asked Alexa to unlock the vehicle doors. This could be done from anywhere Alexa is connected.
Once inside the Edge, I talked to Alexa as well, as it connects through the SYNC3 AppLink. I could access Voice navigation, traffic information and even find the best fuel prices nearby. Before
I drove off, I asked Alexa to close the garage door in the smart home, and if I forgot, I could ask Alexa the status of the garage door.
For myself, having travelled across the city and thinking “did I close the garage door?” Alexa and FordPass provides both convenience and peace of mind.
Co-Pilot360 is another technology on the 2019 Edge. This is a suite of driver assist features such as blind spot information, rear cross traffic warning, lane departure notification, around the vehicle camera views and automatic high beam operation but three features of Co-Pilot360 I found most fascinating are the lane centring system, the adaptive cruise with stop and go, and the automatic emergency braking system.
Lane centring starts you activate the adaptive cruise control and set the speed. Then the lane centring automatically steers the Edge into the centre of the lane.
Using camera technology and electric power steering, the system monitors the lane markings on the road to steer the vehicle.
If a lane marking temporarily disappears, such as when another lane merges into your lane, the system maintains the vehicle distance from the existing lane marking. It can also follow vehicles ahead if lane markings temporarily disappear.
This system still depends on driver control, although the electric steering will keep the vehicle in the centre of the lane even on twisty roads even if the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel.
If your hands remain off the steering wheel for more than a few seconds, then the system flashes a warning message on the dash and can chime to notify you.
Continue to keep your hands off the steering wheel and the vehicle will start to decelerate and come to a complete stop, still centred in the lane.
The driver is able to override the lane centring by turning the steering wheel although there is some resistance in the steering effort.
This system is much better than lane departure systems because it allows the driver to relax while keeping the vehicle accurately centred in the lane.
The stop and go feature of the adaptive cruise control is perfect for rush hour traffic. With the vehicle stopped in traffic, the cruise in engaged and the driver’s feet can be removed from the pedals.
When the vehicle in front starts to move, the Edge will smoothly accelerate to match the speed. When the vehicle in front stops, the Edge smoothly brakes to a stop behind it.
Finally, the automatic emergency braking feature of Co-Pilot360 will monitor vehicles and pedestrians ahead and if a collision is pending, it will warn the driver, pre-charge the brake fluid pressure to the brakes and if the driver doesn’t react to the warning, it will automatically apply the brakes to a full stop.
At slower speeds, this can prevent a collision and at higher speeds it will minimize damage or injuries.
When advanced features like this come to a mid-priced family style SUV like the Edge it enables many of us to enjoy the safety and convenience of modern technology.