American carmaker Ford Motors Corporation is reportedly trailblazing the motoring industry in setting its sights on releasing the first fully autonomous car soon and mass produced it within the next five years.
Reports have it that Ford is now closer to achieving the goal than most other car manufacturers or skeptics may think especially with the next-generation Ford Fusion hybrid self-driving car about to be introduced late this week at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2017 to be held in Las Vegas.
The goal of the American carmaker is to build a high volume, fully-autonomous car fleet for ride-sharing purposes by 2021.
The Ford Fusion accordingly uses the same platform as its current self-driving development car. But it is the technology in the new vehicle that will reportedly keep Ford on the cutting edge of self-driving car technology, reports Komando.
According to sources, the new-generation Ford Fusion will feature electrical controls that are closer to being ready for production. It also includes a new system that can scan the road ahead with twice the precisions as the previous model that hit the road three years ago.
Elements of self-driving cars
Ford Motors claims that the new Fusion contains two main elements of self-driving cars, which is an obvious hint that it is dry-running the technology on the hybrid vehicle initially.
These two elements are autonomous vehicle platform and virtual driver system.
The Ford Fusion hybrid also utilizes mechanical LiDAR pucks that are mounted just above the side mirrors. The pucks create a 360-degree view around the vehicle.
All eyes will be on the Ford Fusion hybrid vehicle when CES 2017 officially kicks off in a matter of days especially that it promises to set up the first fully autonomous vehicle to come from an American car manufacturer.
The second-generation Ford Fusion is almost a total departure from previous self-driving cars that critics have seen in testing.
Apparently, Ford opted to disguise the sensors and cameras that aid the Fusion in its operation, resulting in a sleeker body that looks more like a regular car than a car of the future.
Hyping up the excitement with teases
Ford also knows how to hype up its reported vehicle that will be a prelude to its first-ever fully autonomous vehicle. It has released a few teaser images of the Ford Fusion hybrid in order to intentionally build up suspense for the full unveiling later this week, reports Inhabitat.
Chris Brewer, Chief Engineer of Ford’s autonomous vehicle program, said that the driverless Ford Fusion hybrid sees two football fields of distance in every direction. The car’s advanced field of vision means that it requires fewer sensors compared to previous self-driving prototype models.
The American carmaker also announced that it will expand its self-driving test fleet from 30 cars to around 90 in 2017, a big leap forward after just three years of development.
Ford is currently testing autonomous vehicles in California, Arizona, and Michigan, and will soon roll out pilot programs in the United Kingdom and Germany as well.
There have been rumors about Ford’s plan to create a fully autonomous vehicle for years. But during the recent Ford Annual Trend conference, CEO Mark Fields disclosed the company’s plans for the future of transportation.
Fields also revealed some information on how these cars will operate. Most notable is the fact that, unlike existing vehicles which contain an AI, it shall also allow a human to take control in an emergency. Bur Ford’s planned vehicles will have no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brakes.
At present, the existing prototypes of self-driving vehicles are, admittedly, a little quirky. Ford has built a set of bulky sensors and mounted them on the roof of a series of modified Ford Fusion hybrid vehicles while their software is under development.