Technology in the 2013 Ford Explorer May be Better than a Cup of Coffee

By Ford Social Member

While the warning light in the dash will be shaped like a cup of coffee, the technology in the 2013 Ford Explorer may be a lot more valuable. Ford is introducing new lane keeping technologies, including a system that can help detect drowsy drivers, to help them stay alert and in their lane.

The innovative Lane Keeping System has three unique features designed to help drivers stay in control behind the wheel: Driver Alert System, Lane Keeping System and Lane Keeping Aid.

Driver Alert System

The Driver Alert System is designed to help alert drowsy drivers by monitoring the vehicle’s movement compared to lane markings that are tracked by a camera mounted on the windshield. If the system detects a driving pattern consistent with a drowsy driver, a first-level chime will sound and a coffee cup warning will appear on the dashboard instrument cluster to recommend the driver take a break.

If the driver does not respond to this alert and the system continues to sense the driver is fatigued, another warning and chime will be issued. Drivers can monitor their condition on the dashboard at any time, even without receiving warnings. If they approach the yellow warning range, they should rest as soon as possible.

All information is reset as soon as the driver stops and either opens the door or turns off the engine. More than 40 percent of Americans say they have fallen asleep or nodded off while driving, according to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Lane Keeping Alert

The Lane Keeping Alert is designed to help drivers avoid unintentional lane changes. When the system detects the vehicle drifting close to lane markings, it will alert the driver through a vibration in the steering wheel to naturally direct the driver’s attention to where it is required.

This provides the driver with valuable time to react and steer the vehicle back into its lane. To calculate the lane position, Lane Keeping Alert uses data from the front camera on the windshield. A display in the dashboard instrument cluster lets the driver know when the system is operational as not all roads are well-marked.

Lane Keeping Aid

Lane Keeping Aid takes this technology even further by providing steering torque to alert the driver of the need to steer back toward the center of the lane. The system calculates the amount of steering required based on factors such as the distance to the lane markings, yaw angle and curve radius determined from the front camera and other sensors in the vehicle.

If the driver prefers, the Lane Keeping Alert can work in combination with the Lane Keeping Aid. When the driver signals, the system is deactivated so that the vehicle can change lanes without intervention. The driver can override the Lane Keeping Aid at any time through counter steering, hard braking or fast accelerating.

In these cases, the system recognizes that the driver has intentionally changed lanes. While steering torque is being applied, the system also can display a warning if a torque sensor determines the driver may not have his or her hands on the steering wheel based on the driver’s steering efforts.

If the system still detects the driver’s hands may be off the wheel after a few seconds, an audible chime is played to help prevent drivers from inappropriately relying on the Lane Keeping Aid.


The sensitivity of the setting can be adjusted between normal and increased, which moves the warning zones in closer to the center of the lane. The intensity of the steering wheel vibrations can be adjusted as well between low, medium and high. The last-known setting for each selection is stored so it does not have to be set each time the system is activated.

The system features must be turned on by the driver, and will stay on unless the driver turns them off. The customer chooses which feature is preferred: alert, aid or both. The systems work both day and night with low-beam headlights.

Dashed lines, like those on highways, will appear when the system is activated. A green line indicates the system is available and ready to provide a warning. A flashing yellow line means the system has just provided a Lane Keeping Aid warning, while a flashing red line notifies the driver of a Lane Keeping Alert warning.

Gray lines indicate the system is suppressed because the vehicle is traveling at less than the 40-mph activation speed, the road is poorly marked, or adverse environmental conditions do not allow the camera to determine road markings.
gopal l 07/19/2012
I have an Explorer XLT 2009 model but I have never been called for a meeting to address my ideas and difficulties faced with the Agents. Understand that Ford will resolve these issues in future. But Lane keeping alert is excellent and would suggest ford to implement atleast on their explorers from 2008 models wihtout any extra cost.
Kyle Rohde 01/18/2012
@Jason T I haven't driven a new Explorer yet, but my 2011 Mustang has electric steering and the disconnected feeling isn't there in the least. Maybe the Explorer version needs some further tweaking?

In regard to the technology this post is focused on, seems like great updates for this category of vehicle. And I'm in support of them being options on lots of cars, as long as they're options because you're right Jason T, this stuff pushes the price further and further up. 50K for an Explorer sounds insane.
Juston Preble 01/18/2012
Love the new driver warning system. But I also would prefer an engine choice such as the 3.5 EcoBoost. At this point my growing family preferes to make plans to buy the Ford Flex, because the Expedition is out dated both in styling and engine/powertrain choices, and the expedition honestly feels to confining compared to our 2003 Lincoln Aviator. The new Explorer is not lean enough. The cabin feels like its full of bulky features, like the center consol, why is it so thick, as well the doors, why are they so thick. The flex just seems more practicle, despite its crazy high price tag for a loaded vehicle. I told my wife we might as well just switch to buying used fords, such as the 2002 Expedition when the cabins were not so confining, and when you can find them for $6,000 in great condition.
Mark 01/13/2012
I love the lane departure warning system in volvos. It's great we can now get a better version of it in Ford!
Jason T 01/06/2012
I'm with Brian Rey, more power, better fuel economy, lighter weight(4000lb or less would be nice), and the ability to turn AWD off. I also feel disconnected from the road with the EPAS or electric steering. Just test drove a loaded explorer yesterday and like a lot about it, but still needs work for something that costs almost $50k (the 2013 will go up in cost)...spending 50k makes want to turn left into the Audi dealership and pick up an S4 instead. I don't need the added cost of a computer telling me I am tired, pretty sure I can figure that out myself.
Brian Rey 11/19/2011
I have a idea that may be better than a cup of coffee, a 2013 model with a 315hp, 300lbs 3.5 Ecoboost in a Explorer. Do that, and I will be put one on order right now.
Jamie At Ford 11/02/2011
@Gabriel – With severe fatigue the ability to make more coherent decisions may decrease and the addition of this technology helps drivers recognize, by objective data, when they should stop and rest.

Multiple warning settings, including mild ones like a vibrating pulse sent to the steering wheel, are all preventative measures part of moving Forward with Ford!

Ford Customer Service Division
Ana Margarida Alves 10/30/2011
Yes, it is Amazing! : )
Eric Michael Beaudoin 10/29/2011
Yeah, it's cool and all. I think I'll drive for myself, though.
Eric Morton 10/28/2011
what if your changing lanes or turning off the highway? taking a sharp turn possibly?
Gabriel John Keane 10/28/2011
Technological advances are good, but technically this is useless. If you look straight ahead you're okay. If you're that tired you shouldn't be driving.
Yona Lugo 10/28/2011
Terry Lynn Gwynn 10/28/2011
I have a 2004 explorer. Would love to get a newer one. Maybe in the future