With Autonomous Driving Permit In Hand, Ford Targets $5.4 Trillion …

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ford is officially bringing its self-driving cars to California’s public roads.

The American automaker announced plans today (Dec. 16) to begin testing its fully-autonomous Fusion Hybrid model on public streets in 2016, as part of a state-run Department of Motor Vehicle program.The auto maker on Tuesday announced that it has obtained the permit necessary to let its fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid loose on public roads in California.Ford will start testing self-driving cars on California’s public roads, signaling the company’s increasing efforts to develop vehicles with cutting edge technology. The Detroit, Michigan-based company joins Alphabet’s Google, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Honda and others permitted to test self-driving cars in California—speeding up the race to make such vehicles publicly available.

By Google’s estimates, the public is still five years away from taking fully-autonomous spins on the open road, but Swedish automaker Volvo plans to shorten the wait to two years. The center opened in January this year and brings together more than 100 researchers, engineers and scientists and is one of several R&D centers operated by major automakers in Silicon Valley. Ford also said it will expand its strategic research partnership with Stanford University in 2016 to 13 projects, more than double the number of collaborations this year.

The upcoming tests tie into that goal, as well as a Ford initiative—dubbed the “Ford Smart Mobility” plan—to advance the automaker’s role in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, data, and analytics. Most prototype autonomous cars use the same scanners and match the images with a database of prerecorded images to determine where the car is at any given moment. Google’s self-driving cars are already a familiar sight on the roads in Palo Alto and neighboring Mountain View, where the company has its Google X research center. The state’s unique road infrastructure and unusual transportation scenarios—like motorcycles that can legally split lanes—will provide new conditions for the vehicles to cope with and learn from, according to Ford. Ford has already been testing autonomous car technology at Mcity, a fake town built by the University of Michigan to serve as a testbed for driverless car technology.

In Mcity, cars can experience a range of road surfaces, including concrete, asphalt, simulated brick and dirt, and drive down two-, three- and four-lane roads. There are also the common sights of city streets, such as street lights, crosswalks, bike lanes, trees, fire hydrants, sidewalks, signs, and traffic control devices. The center’s goal is to make testing as realistic as possible while allowing car makers the chance to test different types of conditions and maneuvers without worrying about other road users. In the past year, the lab has used virtual test drives to study the interaction between an autonomous car and pedestrians, and researched sensors and how they can pull information from street signs, vehicles and even pedestrians.

The company is working with Riders for Health to collect GPS data and mapping coordinates to make health care, vaccines and medication delivery to people throughout rural Africa.

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