GM have a feature called Supercruise that uses driver monitoring on known routes, to allow the driver to remove their hands from the wheel for miles (or km) at a time. Now Ford are chasing the same technology with the Mach-E due out later this year.
As part of the Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Technology, the Mach-E will allow hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada.
Adaptive cruise control ensures you maintain a safe distance to the car ahead and when that’s combined with lane centering, that’d getting a decent way to feeling like the car can drive itself. With navigating freeways under control, the driver can relax, be safer on long journeys and if they have to steer for the last 15 minutes, of an 8 hour trip, that’s still a big leap forward.
From the animation in the video below, we can see Ford is planning a driver monitoring system that ensures you are still paying attention, even though your hands are off the wheel.
There’s obviously still a need for systems to accommodate for other vehicles encroaching into the lane, or debris, roadworks etc. For this, Ford are like to hand back control of the vehicle to the driver.
While this certainly looks like it is a runway to full autonomy, this is a very specific use case and doesn’t easy apply to navigating city streets etc.
I’d really like to see Elon reconsider his position on driver monitoring in Tesla vehicles. With GM and now Ford moving to it, it’s starting to quickly become a trend in the industry. Pretty quickly it’ll feel outdated for Tesla drivers, to be required to hold the wheel, when competitors don’t.
When Full-Self Driving was going to be complete at the end of 2019, spending engineering resources on a temporary problem, did seem like a waste. Now FSD development is taking longer than expected, it’s probably time to rethink it.
Once FSD does arrive, it’ll definitely be far superior to both Supercruise and Ford’s Co-Pilot360, but there is a risk here that Tesla’s decision on driver monitoring starts to feel old, fast.
The big question about Tesla’s interior camera, does it have the resolution necessary to detect decreased blink rates, or would it be restricted to full head movements, like the driver falling asleep.