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The Future Of Ford Is Autonomous Vehicles

By Paul Pajarillo , Jan 06, 2016 10:24 PM EST
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Ford Motors has talked about its autonomous vehicles at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The carmaker is now on its third generation that reaches the SAE's level four autonomy.

Mark Fields, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, talked about the company's autonomous car program at the show. At the press conference, he listed the partners of the company for the said program but did not mention anything about tech hulk Google.

Rumors have it that Google and Ford had been collaborating in the development of autonomous vehicles, as reported by the Yahoo Tech website. The rumors were acknowledged by Fields while sliding a list of project partners, including Velodyne sensors, State Farm Insurance and the University of Michigan, in a presentation. Spectators at the 2016 CES learned that the carmaker is in its third generation for autonomous vehicle projects.

Ford's first generation was a pickup truck that took on the DARPA challenge in 2005 and 2007. The vehicle was said to be fitted with a huge array of sensors. The second generation was a Fusion hybrid. It was fitted with four small obtrusive LiDAR sensors on its roof made by Velodyne. The third generation is also a Fusion that utilizes Velodyne's ultra-PUCK, the latest puck-shaped LiDAR sensor made by the sensor technology company.

The Velodyne ultra-PUCK LiDAR sensors are small enough to fit into a vehicle's side mirrors compared to roof-like plates in the second generation Fusion that poke up like a stegosaurus' back. It extends up to 200 meters in range and has increased precision.

Raj Nair, chief technology officer of Ford, states that the company is tripling its self-driving test fleet to 30 vehicles that utilizes the University of Michigan's Mcity technology, which proves grounds for fully autonomous vehicles. The goal is to reach SAE level four autonomy where drivers are completely taken out of the loop.

As hinted by Mr. Fields at the CES, Ford's autonomous vehicles are ready for the market. They will be affordable rather carrying price tags of luxury-level vehicles.

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