Ford Uses AI in 2019 Edge, Edge ST to Improve Fuel Economy

The Blue Oval wants to Edge out the competition in the midsize crossover segment.

Ford

The 2019 Ford Edge crossover in all-wheel drive and ST trims is using artificial intelligence (AI) to manage traction and fuel consumption. The feature is the all-wheel-drive disconnect which tells the vehicle when to switch between two-wheel and all-wheel-drive modes, Ford announced in a press release Wednesday.

Ford's all wheel drive disconnect, which is a first for the company, uses a extensive array of sensors to send information to a dedicated computer which uses a form of AI to manage the feature. The technology calculates information from the sensors quicker than the human brain to determine if all-wheel drive is needed. The system’s computer receives and processes data from these sensors, including its anti-lock brakes, windshield wipers, outside temperature, and whether there is a wheel slip or the vehicle is towing a trailer.

“The concept is pretty simple, it was the execution that was the challenge,” said Scott Beiring, Ford driveline applications supervisor in the press release. “Shifting between two- and all-wheel drive needs to be fast and seamless enough that the customer doesn’t know it is happening.”

Ford said the algorithm uses "fuzzy logic" to process all of the data to determine if all-wheel or front-wheel drive is best for the current situation. The system can react in milliseconds to determine which traction mode is best and can send up to 100 percent of the available power from the front to the rear wheels depending on the 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. 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," said Beiring.

The all-wheel drive disconnect isn’t the only fuel saving technique used by the 2019 Edge and Edge ST. For the new-year model, it will receive a new eight-speed automatic with two overdrive gears for improved highway cruising. The eight-speed also features an active transmission warm up that uses reclaimed heat energy to warm up the transmission quicker.  

Other fuel saving tech includes automatic engine stop-start when the vehicle is stopped, deceleration fuel shut-off when the vehicle is slowing down, and exhaust gas recirculation. The 2019 Edge models also come with active grille shutters and new underbody shields to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag. 

The new Edge and Edge ST will arrive at dealers later this month.