Ford enters ‘advanced engineering’ phase of work on self-driving technology

Article by Andrew Christian, on June 26, 2015

Ford Motor is now on the second phase of its work on autonomous technology – the advanced engineering program. The automaker has recently concluded the first phase, which is the research effort. Ford had formed a global team for this project led by Randy Visintainer, who has been with the brand for 29 years.

No timeframe has been revealed on when the autonomous vehicles will be rolled out. However, Ford’s lineup within the next five years will be available with driver-assist features that are included in the steps to achieve a self-driving vehicle.

During a media event, Raj Nair, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, said that testing is already being done on autonomous vehicles and that production and sales of vehicles that are semi-autonomous have already begun.

Nair added that by next year in the U.S., Ford will start to sell a vehicle with technology that helps avoid bumping into pedestrians. The Ford Mondeo that’s available in Europe already has this feature. In a statement, the automaker said that this technology will appear on most of its products by 2019.

According to Ford CEO Mark Fields, the company is hoping to offer affordable, mass-market autonomous vehicles but it isn’t working to necessarily be the first to use this technology. He believes that by the end of this decade, autonomous vehicles will be introduced.

What entering the second phase actually means is that the automaker is testing and refining its algorithms as well as preparing the sensing and computing technology for production. Creating a vehicle program from this technology comprises the final phase.

Visintainer held the position as Ford’s director of product development quality. He also worked in various capacities in the advanced engineering group. Visintainer and his team are based in Dearborn. The team also consists of members in different sites worldwide such as Germany and the newly opened Palo Alto, Calif., research center.

Cameras have a big role in Ford’s driver-assist technologies, which will soon be more widely offered in the upcoming years.

By 2018, the rearview cameras will be standard equipment on its North American light passenger vehicles. By 2020, front cameras will be on most vehicles worldwide. Presently, rearview cameras are standard on 19 Ford models for sale in North America.

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