June 18, 2020 / 10:45 AM / in 23 days

Ford to offer hands-free driving in 2021 - six years after Tesla

FILE PHOTO: A 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV electric vehicle is displayed at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Ontario, Canada February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Thursday that it will offer hands-free driving on its new Mustang Mach-E in fall 2021, six years after Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and four years after General Motors Co (GM.N) introduced similar systems.

The system, called Active Drive Assist, will be offered on several Ford models, most notably the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover vehicle that goes on sale later this year and is targeted at the Tesla Model Y market.

Ford said U.S. buyers can order the Mustang Mach-E this fall with the Active Driver Assist hardware package, which includes extra radar sensors and a driver-facing camera, but the software won’t be ready until fall 2021.

Tesla introduced its first semi-automated hands-free driver assist package, called Autopilot, in 2015. GM followed two years later with a similar semi-automated feature called Super Cruise on the Cadillac CT6.

Tesla has constantly revised and updated Autopilot and now offers the feature across its entire four-model range. GM is expanding Super Cruise to other Cadillac models this fall and will offer an enhanced version to other GM brands over the next three years.

Ford said the Active Drive Assist software can be installed when ready next year through a wireless over-the-air update, similar to how some computer software programs are installed and mobile phone apps are updated. Tesla has offered over-the-air updates since 2012.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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