Last month, Ford announced that it would further its autonomous vehicle testing on the public roads of California. Now, the carmaker has announced that it will triple the size of its testing fleet this year. It says the fully autonomous vehicle fleet of around 30 vehicles will be the largest of any carmaker.
The fleet of Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles will be tested on roads of Arizona and Michigan, as well as California. These newest vehicles employ the third-generation of Ford's autonomous vehicle development platform, as well as new-generation LiDAR sensor technology.
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LiDAR sensors emit short pulses of laser light to scan the surrounding environment millions of times per second. They are able to determine the distance to objects from them and create high-definition 3D images of the surrounding area in real-time.
The new Velodyne Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK LiDAR sensors have a range of 200 m (656 ft) and, says Ford, are the "first auto-specific LiDAR sensors capable of handling different driving scenarios." The company claims it can generate as much data with two of the new sensors as with four of the previous generation, and their small and lightweight design means they can be easily embedded into different parts of the vehicle, such as the wing mirror.
The video below provides an insight into Ford's work on autonomous driving.