This week, Ford announced a new and advanced autonomous development vehicle that will be used for testing autonomous functions. The features Ford is testing may one day end up in a car shuffling you around town. Ford didn’t give the car an exciting new name; instead, it’s sticking with the Ford Fusion Hybrid moniker that has been used since it introduced the first model three years ago.
“This new car uses the current Ford autonomous vehicle platform, but ups the processing power with new computer hardware,” Ford’s Chief Program Engineer Chris Brewer explained. “Electrical controls are closer to production-ready, and adjustments to the sensor technology, including placement, allow the car to better see what’s around it. New LiDAR sensors have a sleeker design and more targeted field of vision, which enables the car to now use just two sensors rather than four, while still getting just as much data.”
Brewer, in his blog post, touched on some compelling and almost philosophical questions surrounding the development of new autonomous vehicles. He asked, for example, how one is supposed to replicate “everything a human driver does behind the wheel in a vehicle that drives itself?” Brewer ponders how the car will recognize if it has the right of way or not, or what happens if there’s an accident along the route. These are questions that other firms, such as Uber, Volvo and Google, are also trying to answer. Brewer said Ford hopes to learn more by using a virtual driver system that’s dependable and able to make decisions that are otherwise left up to a human driver to make.
Why a hybrid?
Brewer also explains why Ford decided to go with another hybrid vehicle instead of a standard gas-powered car. Turns out there isn’t enough electric inside of a gas-car for all of the components required in an autonomous vehicle. Brewer said Ford “had to tap into Fusion Hybrid’s high-voltage battery pack by adding a second, independent power converter to help create two sources of power to maintain robustness.”
Brewer taps into several of Ford’s key focus areas in his post, which you can read at the source link below.