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Ford launches self-driving test vehicle

Posted: 28 Feb 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automated driving  Ford  sensor  driver assistance 

Ford has demonstrated automated driving at the MWC, showcasing its years of research in developing sensors and driver assistance systems. The company said that the test vehicle is aimed at identifying technological, as well as legal and societal issues involved in automated driving.

The vehicle is equipped with a rotating light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor. The LiDAR device is fixed on the roof to enable scanning up to a range of 70m or 230ft. According to Ford, the sensor can identify vehicles, pedestrians, bicycle drivers and even small animals. The generated data is transformed in real-time into a virtual 3D map that contains all the objects detected, in relation to their direction and distance to the vehicle.

During the development of the vehicle, Ford collaborated with the University of Michigan and US insurance group State Farm, among others. While the work of the university scientists focused on the development of the sensors and control computers, the collaboration with the insurance company aimed at evaluating the chances and risks of autonomous driving.

In 2014, Ford launched two new research projects in the US o deepen the understanding of autonomous driving. In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ford ventures to find out how a vehicle can predict the movement trajectories of other traffic participants including pedestrians by means of innovative algorithms. At the same time, the carmaker develops solutions how vehicles can circumvent obstacles to keep the further traffic development in sight, which is conducted along with the Standard University.

In Europe, Ford collaborates with the Aachen Technical University RWTH in developing innovative HMI concepts. Ford assumes that HMI design is a crucial component to implement autonomous driving since they bundle the entire interaction between vehicle and driver. This is an important factor since the driver must be able to resume the control over the vehicle in very short time, if necessary.

The Ford test platform, based on a series Focus vehicle, also contains a number of advanced driver assistance systems such as a parallel parking assistant, automatic city stop or voice control for audio systems, air conditioning and navigation system. For the design of the platform, Ford utilised the results of its 'Driver in Control' analysis, conducted on the company's Virtual Test Track Experiment (VIRTTEX) driving simulator.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
  EE Times Europe





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