Ford Motor Co. has tweaked the 2019 version of the Ford Edge by making an all-wheel drive system smart enough to detect various driving conditions and automatically shift between two-wheel and all-wheel drive.
The system is called all-wheel-drive disconnect, a first-for-Ford technology that uses a form of artificial intelligence that can calculate quicker than the human brain. Based on information received from dozens of high-tech sensors, the new Edge can determine in a fraction of a second whether all-wheel drive is needed.
“The concept is pretty simple, it was the execution that was the challenge,” said Scott Beiring, Ford driveline applications supervisor. “Shifting between two- and all-wheel drive needs to be fast and seamless enough that the customer doesn’t know it is happening.”
The system uses an all-new dedicated electronic brain that receives inputs from dozens of sensors throughout the vehicle that detect wheel slip as well as inputs from the anti-lock brakes and can even detect if the windshield wipers are on, whether the Edge is towing a trailer and determine the outside temperature.
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A “fuzzy logic” algorithm processes the data to determine if all-wheel or front-wheel drive are optimal. Constantly monitoring, the system can detect in 10 milliseconds the need to engage or disengage all-wheel drive. It can quickly distribute up to 100% of the available power from the front to the rear wheels, depending on driving conditions detected by the system.
“It’s like you or I determining what to wear based on reading a weather forecast, where we’re going, the time of year and looking outside,” Beiring said.
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“In the case of the new Edge, just because the windshield wipers are on doesn’t mean all-wheel drive is going to engage. The algorithm makes the call based on a variety of things that are happening – but much faster than a person could process.”
All-wheel-drive disconnect is only one reason for the 2019 Ford Edge’s improved EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings.
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All-wheel drive equipped vehicles have EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/23 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive vehicles have EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.