Ford has announced two new automated driving research projects with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. These projects are aimed at helping better understand the technologies we’ll need to have autonomous vehicles in our future.
It’s all part of Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility which aims to create a whole new vision of transportation in our future, not in the next model year, but in 2025. It’s not just about cars, but about bringing together technology and businesses to create partnerships that will more quickly and efficiently get us around every day.
The MIT research will be focused on predicting the actions of vehicles and pedestrians while the Stanford research will try to formulate solutions to how vehicles can move in such a way that its sensors can see around obstructions. This all builds on research Ford started with its Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle.
This is a unique research vehicle in that it uses technology that’s already in the vehicles on the road today, but combines it with four LiDAR sensors that provide a whole new level of information. These sensors make the vehicle capable of generating a 3D image of its surroundings.
What Ford hopes to do through its partnership with MIT is expand on that 3D image. Instead of just showing where things are surrounding the vehicle, algorithms will help predict where they’re going to be seconds later. Knowing where a car or pedestrian is about to go will help the vehicle take action to avoid accidents.
The Stanford technology seeks not to predict where objects are moving, but rather to see around those obstacles to where the path is clear. This could be used to determine which direction to take if a vehicle ahead suddenly stops short requiring a quick decision about an alternate path to avoid a collision.
It sounds a little sci-fi, but it’s what human drivers do every day. We make judgments about where other cars and bikes are heading so we can stay out of their way. We make snap decisions about which way to go when traffic suddenly stops. Ford hopes to do the same thing with its cars, and maybe, given a few years, they’ll do it better than people.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.