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Ford showed a performance version of the 2019 Ford Edge at the Detroit Auto Show in January (Photo: Ford)

Ford Motor's new Ford Edge is counting on artificial intelligence to optimize traction settings, improve handling and save fuel.

The carmaker said its 2019 Ford Edge SUV will have both all-wheel drive and two-wheel drive traction. AI will shift between the two if and when needed.

Ford calls the system "all wheel-drive disconnect" and claims it is a technology not built into a production car today.

AI can make decisions on traction and other optional vehicle functions faster than a human, Ford says.

Carmakers are moving head with adopting AI-based technologies into their vehicles, but often face implementation challenges.

“The concept is pretty simple, it was the execution that was the challenge,” Scott Beiring, Ford's driveline applications supervisor, said in a press release. He added that shifting between two- and all-wheel drive needs to be "fast and seamless."

The 2019 Ford Edge will have a new dedicated "electronic brain" that gets information from vehicle sensors and interacts with the car's traction control system to detect wheel slip and draw conclusions from the performance of anti-lock brakes.

The system also can detect whether windshield wipers are on, what the outside temperature is and whether the Edge is towing a trailer.

With the help of so-called "fuzzy logic" processes, algorithms at the heart of the system then determine whether conditions are better for all-wheel or two-wheel drive.

Said Beiring: "The algorithm makes the call based on a variety of things that are happening – but much faster than a person could process."

-By Arjen Bongard