Ford Unveils Automated Fusion Hybrid Research Car
Ford has revealed its new automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle. Designed to be the next step in the company’s “Blueprint for Mobility”, Ford has developed the vehicle in conjunction with researchers at the University of Michigan and insurance giant State Farm.
The Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle has built on more than ten years of the company’s research regarding automated driving, and will test the capabilities of current and future driver-assist technologies and sensing systems. The company hopes to advance the development of these technologies so that they may be used in Ford’s next generation of vehicles.
According to Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, the company has quite the view for the future. “We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer,” he stated. Ford also hopes that these innovations may help to make vehicles more sustainable for the future and ease traffic congestion in the cities, making travel easier and more convenient.
While many of Ford’s current vehicles already offer features such as parking assist, voice commands, emergency braking assist, and dangerous driving situation detection, Ford hopes to expand on these to create a truly automated vehicle in the future.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle will serve as an active research problem to help test and develop technologies that will solve problems such as driver safety, traffic congestion, and global gridlock. Real-world data gathered using the Fusion Hybrid will build on information already received during tests using Ford’s VIRTTEX driving simulator.
Technology features of the Fusion Hybrid include the Blind Spot Information System, lane-departure warning, active park assist, collision warning with brake support, and adaptive cruise control. Many of these technologies are already available on several Ford vehicles currently on the market, but Ford hopes to continue improving upon them in order to take their vehicles to the next level. The vehicle also incorporates four LiDAR infrared light sensors, which can scan everything within 200 feet and generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment in order to warn drivers of potential hazards. These systems are so sophisticated they can tell the difference between a small animal and a paper bag at a distance of nearly 100 yards.
The University of Michigan has a long history of partnering with Ford for research, and Alec Gallimore, associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education at the school’s College of Engineering hopes the trend continues. State Farm has also joined this enterprise with the hopes of determining whether the new driver-assist technologies might reduce the instance of rear-end collisions.