Ford has teamed up with the University of Michigan and insurance guru State Farm to launch an ambitious autonomous/green project. They are testing and developing a self-driving version of the Fusion sedan based on the hybrid version of the car. This thing will be the last word in advanced automotive technologies.
The car maker’s decade-long research in automated driving culminates in this autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid which features advanced sensing systems and driver-assist technologies. When you break down the autonomous system into its pieces you realize it’s actually not that mind-blowing. It works based on the system already available in ordinary production cars, such as voice commands, obstacle detection, emergency braking, and automated parking. Put this lot together and govern it with a clever computer program, and there you have it – an autonomous vehicle.
The automated Fusion Hybrid will serve as the research platform to develop potential solutions for the longer-term societal, legislative and technological issues raised by a future of fully automated vehicles. Ford is after real-world solutions with this car, not ones that only work in a lab.
One technology that sets the automated Fusion Hybrid apart from your average family car is vehicle-to-vehicle communications. This will include some autopilot capabilities, such as vehicle “platooning,” where vehicles traveling in the same direction sync up their movements to create denser driving patterns. In longer term this, combined with the existing technologies in parking and navigating, will enable fully autonomous travel.
The obvious benefits of this include improved safety, reduced traffic congestion and the ability to achieve major environmental improvements. Driving, then, will soon become a recreational activity you do on the weekends to blow off some steam.
“The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100.”