Automotive

Ford accelerates autonomous tech testing and Smart Mobility research

Ford accelerates autonomous te...
The testing will use fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans
The testing will use fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans
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The Ford Research and Innovation Center has undertaken an "autonomous vehicle virtual test drive" study replicating real-world interaction between an autonomous car and pedestrians
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The Ford Research and Innovation Center has undertaken an "autonomous vehicle virtual test drive" study replicating real-world interaction between an autonomous car and pedestrians
The Ford Research and Innovation Center has worked on camera-based pedestrian detection
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The Ford Research and Innovation Center has worked on camera-based pedestrian detection
The testing will use fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans
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The testing will use fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans
The Ford Research and Innovation Center has researched sensors for autonomous vehicles
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The Ford Research and Innovation Center has researched sensors for autonomous vehicles
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Just a day after Kia and Hyundia announced they would begin testing autonomous driving technologies on public roads for the first time, Ford has followed suit. The carmaker has been awarded a license for testing in California, US. It is described as a "a key element" of Ford's Smart Mobility plan.

That plan, announced at CES at the beginning of this year, is aimed at taking Ford "to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics." It goes hand-in-hand with the company's 10-year plan for developing autonomous vehicles.

The testing will use fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans and will take place at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto. Since opening in January, Ford says the center has grown to become one of the largest automotive research centers in Silicon Valley, with over 100 researchers, engineers and scientists, many having joined from the technology sector.

This year, the Center has undertaken an "Autonomous Vehicle Virtual Test Drive" study replicating real-world interaction between an autonomous car and pedestrians to better understand and develop responses for those situations, has researched sensors for autonomous vehicles and fusing together the information multiple sensors provide and has worked on camera-based pedestrian detection.

The Ford Research and Innovation Center has worked on camera-based pedestrian detection
The Ford Research and Innovation Center has worked on camera-based pedestrian detection

In addition to its work at the Research and Innovation Center, Ford says it will continue its collaborations with the University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Santa Clara and San Jose State, as well as develop its strategic research collaboration with Stanford. It has 13 projects planned for 2016 across the five areas of Ford Smart Mobility, which is more than double the number of collaborations from this year.

Ford's will begin testing its autonomous driving technology on California's public roads from next year.

The video below shows Ford's Autonomous Vehicle Virtual Test Drive.

Source: Ford

Ford Autonomous Vehicle Virtual Test Drive

View gallery - 4 images
5 comments
Bob Flint
This is not a game, what makes you think that developing an autonomous vehicle will be helped by virtual people, what about reality?
Stop playing around in sunny California, come up north to test with real winter elements, and humans, animals, and thousands of other possibilities on real roads, potholes, & assholes.
Yeah there real serious on this fad to have self driving vehicles.
Daishi
It also shows how useful game engines could be at simulating real world environments for transportation, city planning, autonomous vehicles etc.
I wonder how hard it would be able to reproduce their pedestrian test inside of a GTA 5 mod.
Stephen N Russell
Not testing nationwide & esp So CA. Test in all weather for sure, all automakers. Or lose mktshare. Hire Consumer Test Drivers for testing cars nationwide. Done online & dealerships, auto shows.
Mel Tisdale
The sooner they all get into real world testing, the sooner the manufactures will realise that autonomous road vehicles are just not going to work and these toys will be a thing of the past. Perhaps then we can get round to proper driver assist packages. Who knows we might even get to a point where getting from A to B is a pleasure again, like it was in the old days before the roads became slow moving parking lots for large portions of the day.
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to go out in your car without the worry of some speed or traffic light camera to spoil it for you and even get your licence taken away because you know that the car simply won't let you speed or jump a light?
Actually, I would prefer driver assist to leave the steering to the 'driver'. That way they would have to be sufficiently alert to not only spot the rare black swan (such as a sink hole that is already almost full of other autonomous cars) but do something about it. One thing we can be sure of is that it is unlikely that an autonomous car will regard the circumstance with anything other than an open mouth, albeit a metaphorical one.
habakak
Bob....baby steps. They have to get it right under good conditions first.
Mel...this will work. Humans have limited abilities of observation and are easily distracted. In 10 years or less a car will have more awareness about and abilities to respond to changes in road conditions, traffic (do you know what's going on at a bend in front of you or 10 cars in front of you?), weather or anticipate the unexpected. Once all cars are connected most of the unexpected and erratic human behaviors can be negated (the car won't allow you to turn in too close to someone in the lane next to you). Humans can't communicate with other drivers on the road, not too mention all the drivers in their vicinity to indicate intent. Networked cars will be able too.
Until they get hacked....yawn. It will still be much safer than human drivers.