Ford Unveils Prototype Which Highlights Future Autonomous Driving Technology
|   Thursday, December 19, 2013
Ford has announced that it is working on safety systems to its models, one of them being self-driving, without human intervention. Meanwhile, the Americans presented the prototype they are using to test the new systems.

The prototype is called Fusion Hybrid Automated Research Vehicle and is equipped with four LiDAR (for Light Detection And Ranging) systems, which form a 3D map in real time of the environment surrounding the vehicle, and is intended to ensure that the vehicle will not impact another object on the road.
The Ford prototype used for these tests was developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan and State Farm, an insurance company.

The LiDAR sensors from the board scan an imaginary circle around the vehicle 2.5 million times per second (in the same way a bat or dolphin uses sound waves). It works using infrared not radar waves, sending bundles of light imperceptible to the human eye towards all objects that are at maximum 61 meters (200 feet) away. In real time, the system generates a 3D map of the area where it is located. This map is used to avoid any accident. In the future, the systems used by the prototype will get to equip production cars. Development is being carried out in parallel with Ford suppliers to discuss how the systems will be integrated on the new series models.

"The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman at Ford. "We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100."

Those at Ford have not provided further details about how 3D map constructed is used in real time, and what other safety systems are on this prototype. It is possible that all 3D maps are to be transmitted in real time to the Ford center, where they overlap every map from each autonomous vehicle from the American brand. Thus they would have a pre-evaluated situation of the area cars will be in before they got in range of 61 meters (200 feet) of the system, allowing to avoid congestions before they are a problem, as well as ensuring bypassing road construction work, for example.

"This research builds on the University of Michigan's long history of pioneering automotive research with Ford," stated Alec Gallimore, associate dean of research and graduate education at the school's College of Engineering. "The unique collaboration will enable Ford to benefit from the university's deep knowledge of robotics and automation, and it will allow University of Michigan faculty and students to work side-by-side with some of the best auto engineers in the world."
At the same time, State Farm has been working with Ford to evaluate the impact of driver-assist technologies in order to determine if these techs can lower the rate of rear collisions.

"By teaming up with Ford and the University of Michigan in this research, we are continuing our decades-long commitment to making vehicles, roadways and drivers safer," said Edward Rust, State Farm Chairman and CEO. "The changes new technologies bring to our lives are exciting, and we are always looking at how technology can better meet the ever-changing needs of our customers."
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