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Ford Developing Autonomous Vehicle Using Fusion Hybrid

Driverless car technology is the next big thing for automakers, and so many automakers and even Google want to be in on the game, even though it's not likely to become a reality anytime soon.

Ford, for the first time, unveiled the Automated Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle at its headquarters. Ford intends the vehicle to be a rolling test bed for future navigation and safety technologies that could make it into the company's passenger cars and trucks later this decade.

However, Ford figures its Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle, revealed today, won't be on the production line before 2025.

Despite the rather distant time frame, in automotive terms, that's about two full vehicle generations away--which means the technology that will be implemented has to be developed now.

The Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle is part of what Ford calls its Blueprint for Mobility--an outline of what the future of driverless cars may be like over the next decade.

"The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill 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."

Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president global product development, took pains to indicate the Automated Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle isn't a driverless car. Instead, while it's capable of automated operation, it's assumed to be under the supervision of a human driver.

The new hybrid research vehicle is using data gathered in previous studies, including the VIRTTEX driving simulator, which Ford uses to study how to merge human and automated driving inputs seamlessly. The VIRTTEX project seems to suggest a sort of "blended" or not-fully-driverless model may be part of the plan.

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"We still believe the driver will be in the loop," Nair said, and suggested that it's not the type of thing where you send the car to drive your kid to school while you sip coffee at the kitchen table, to laughter in the audience. "It's also a research vehicle, and a platform for testing current and future technologies. Ninety-three percent of crashes are caused by human error. What if we could significantly reduce human error in driving? And what if we could reduce driver stress and workload?"

Technologies inside the Fusion Hybrid research vehicle that enable its self-driving capabilities include LIDAR (light-based range detection), which scans at 2.5 million times per second to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment at a radius of 200 feet.

Ford says the research vehicle's sensors are sensitive enough to detect the difference between a small animal and a paper bag even at maximum range. More practical differentiations include observation and classification of pedestrians, cyclists, and stationary objects.

Partnering with State Farm on the project to evaluate how the system can help reduce rear-end collisions, Ford says smarter cars will mean fewer road deaths.

Ford is also working on the project in cooperation with the University of Michigan.

"This research builds on the University of Michigan’s long history of pioneering automotive research with Ford," said 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."

Source: Motor Authority

Ford Developing Autonomous Vehicle Using Fusion Hybrid Reviewed by Blogs on 3:48 PM Rating: 5

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