UK driverless trials to benefit from two Ford prototypes

Ford has put the finishing touches on an agreement that will see it supply driverless vehicles to the UK government-backed Autodrive initiative.

During 2015 Ford will hand over two prototype cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communication features to Autodrive that will help the organisations study the contribution driverless and connected cars can make to society.

Since the turn of the year Ford has come out all guns’ blazing with its investment in upcoming technologies. Just last month it unveiled a new research centre in Silicon Valley, housing 125 researchers, engineers and scientists.

Built on semi-autonomy

While Ford is already manufacturing semi-autonomous vehicles that feature Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Active Park Assist, it now wants to make a concerted push for full driverless cars.

The manufacturer is seeking to move its autonomous vehicle efforts from the current research programme to a vehicle development programme, which Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive officer, is aiming for all drivers to have access to this technology.

“These new collaborations will help us better understand and anticipate customers’ wants and needs, especially on connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles,” he said. “We are working to make these new technologies accessible to everyone, not just luxury customers.”

3D map generation

Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicles feature its publically available semi-autonomous technology, with the addition of four LDAR sensors that are able to produce 3D map of the environment in real time.

Algorithms are combined with the sensors to show Ford’s autonomous vehicles the location of vehicles and pedestrians, predict where they are likely to move and take avoidance measures if necessary.

With Ford’s assistance, Autodrive’s driverless project will take place in Coventry and Milton Keynes over the next three years. It is hoped a series of feasibility studies and practical demonstrations will help develop the urban infrastructure technologies required to support driverless mobility.

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