Driverless or automated vehicles are slowly gaining the attention of carmakers. This time, Ford Motor Co. joins the list of carmakers developing driverless vehicles. Ford disclosed a partnership with the University of Michigan and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. to test how driverless technology can be applied to cut congestion and improve traffic safety.
Ford is using a Fusion Hybrid sedan to test its automated driving technology. The vehicle, recently unveiled in Dearborn, is able to drive itself and will be used for testing. Ford's goal is to advance the technology so that it can be fitted in mainstream vehicles by 2025. Earlier this year, Renault-Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said that they are planning to have driverless cars available by 2020.
Robert Bosch GmbH is also developing a set of technologies for automated driving, but remarked that the technology must be “100-percent safe 100 percent of the time” before it can be marketed. Right now, some of the first features of driverless cars can be found on the road, although they gained quite different receptions. For instance, Toyota’s Lexus division offered an automated parking system in 2006, but later dropped the option due to slow sales.
Ford now offers automated parking and lane assist systems in several models. Its Fusion sedan could be availed with some of the technology that can be employed for automated driving like self-parking system, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
“In the future, automated driving may well help us improve driver safety and manage issues such as traffic congestion and global gridlock, yet there are still many questions that need to be answered and explored to make it a long-term reality,” said Raj Nair, group vice president for Ford global product development.
He remarked that their goal in the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research project is to test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment.
“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: Ford]