Autonomous vehicles seem to be in Ford’s future, as the company has rolled out a self-driving Fusion Hybrid research vehicle, developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan and State Farm.
It is called a research vehicle because this Ford Fusion Hybrid will be used to test and develop new solutions for self-driving technology.
“With the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research project, our goal is to test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment,” said Raj Nair, vice president of Ford product development.
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The research vehicle uses technology called LiDAR (for Light Detection And Ranging), which can scan the road 2.5 million times per second. Similar to SONAR but with light, this technology bounces infrared light off everything within 200 feet in order to create a digital map of the surrounding environment. The sensors are clever enough to track just about anything. Ford says it’s accurate enough to tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal at nearly a football field away.
While the new technology is interesting, the American automaker is stating that such self-driving features may not make it into a retail vehicle for at least another 10 years.