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John Gilchrist, Ford Mustang Mach-E engineer, demonstrates Active Drive Assist, which allows for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada. Photo: Ford

Ford is preparing to launch a hands-free driving feature on certain 2021 models, starting with its upcoming electric crossover, the Mustang Mach-E.

Why it matters: The plug-in Mach-E is Ford's Tesla fighter, which means it needs assisted driving capability to compete with Tesla's Autopilot. Like the Tesla system, Ford's new Active Drive Assist has limitations.

  • "You are always in charge and you must pay attention to the road ahead," Darren Palmer, Ford's global director for battery electric vehicles, told journalists this week.

Details: Ford's hands-free driving system is actually more like GM's Super Cruise technology, now available on select Cadillacs.

  • An infrared camera mounted on the dashboard keeps track of the driver's gaze and head position, even if the driver is wearing sunglasses or a face mask. (Tesla doesn't have a driver monitoring system, which is why GM's system gets higher marks from Consumer Reports.)
  • Ford's technology will enable hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada, under the right circumstances.

There is one way that Ford is copying Tesla, though: Buyers need to pay for the hardware upfront, because the software that enables the hands-free feature isn't ready yet and will have to be added later.

  • In Ford's case, starting later this year Mach-E buyers can pay for the Active Drive Assist hardware as part of the Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 Prep Package.
  • Then in late 2021, they'll pay another fee to add the software that enables hands-free driving either via an over-the-air update or installed at a dealership.
  • Ford has not announced pricing for the hardware or the software.
  • Tesla buyers pay $7,000 — and starting July 1, $8,000 — for "full self-driving" technology that is not yet available, not is it clear when it will be.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

GM's eyes are wide open on Nikola partnership

GM CEO Mary Barra. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This week General Motors found itself having to defend a deal in which it can't lose — illustrating how distorted the markets have become over newly public electric vehicle companies.

Catch up quick: On Sept. 8, GM announced a strategic partnership with Nikola Motor Co., a high-flying startup with ambitions to build electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, but no revenue. Nikola shares soared 40% on the news, and GM climbed too.

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.