Ford eyes driverless vehicles on the road by 2025, shows automated Fusion Hybrid

Article by Christian A., on December 13, 2013

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.”

Producing the vital infrastructure to help a sustainable transportation ecosystem will demand the cooperation of many partners over various industries. State Farm and the University of Michigan's robotics and automation research group are vital to generating the visionary research project.

Ford's cooperation with others on the next era of mobility is well-established. Ford was a dynamic member in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)- controlled autonomous car challenges in 2004, 2005 and 2007, the year Ford expanded its endeavors to include the University of Michigan.

While Ford is in charge of creating unique features, giving the vehicle an opportunity to perform at high levels of automation, the University of Michigan – under the baton of faculty members Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson – is taking the lead being in the production of sensor-based innovations. The sensors help in the logic and virtual decision-making vital to enable the car to comprehend its physical surroundings on the road.

The college's researchers are processing the trillions of bytes of information gathered by the car’s sensors, from which they can manufacture a 3D model of the surrounding around the vehicle. The objective is to aid the vehicle – and the driver – to make the necessary safe driving decisions.

This research expands on the University of Michigan's long history of pioneering vehicle research with Ford. The exclusive partnership will empower Ford to profit from the college's profound knowledge of robotics and automation, and it will consequently permit University of Michigan personnel and understudies to work next to each other with some of the best auto engineers on the planet.

Meanwhile, State Farm has been cooperating with Ford to gauge the effect of driver-assist advancements to determine if the innovations can decrease the rate of rear collisions

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