• Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
  • Image Credit: Ford
Autonomous cars may still be in their infancy, but more and more big names in the auto industry are diving in head first. Nissan is already making strides with a semi-autonomous Leaf EV and General Motors is planning to offer semi-autonomous tech by 2020. And then there's Google, doing its thing with a fleet of Toyota Prius. Now, Ford is showing off its latest automated effort, a driverless Fusion Hybrid.

Partnering with the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and State Farm Insurance, the project is part of Ford's Blueprint for Mobility, the company's plan for transportation beyond 2025. "The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," Chairman Bill Ford said. "We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment."

The automated Fusion features four LiDAR infrared sensors that scan the road 2.5 million times every second, using a principle similar to the echolocation used by dolphins or bats. Using the infrared light emitted by the LiDAR, the car can draw a picture of everything within 200 feet to create a map of its surroundings. According to Ford, the sensors are able to tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal from a football field away.

Take a look down below for some of the exciting information on this autonomous project from Ford. Ford Fusion Automated Research Vehicle
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FORD REVEALS AUTOMATED FUSION HYBRID RESEARCH VEHICLE; TEAMS UP WITH UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, STATE FARM
Ford unveils automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle to test and advance its Blueprint for Mobility, which envisions a future of autonomous functionality and advanced technologies after 2025
Developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan and State Farm®, the vehicle builds on more than a decade of Ford automated driving research
Ford is among the leaders in offering driver-assist technologies in its vehicles on the road today, including Ford Fusion, Ford Escape and Ford Explorer


Taking the next step in its Blueprint for Mobility, Ford today – in conjunction with the University of Michigan and State Farm® – revealed a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that will be used to make progress on future automated driving and other advanced technologies.

The result of an ongoing project that builds on more than a decade of Ford's automated driving research, the Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle will test current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies. Ford's goal is to advance development of new technologies with its supplier partners so these features can be applied to the company's next generation of vehicles.

"The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. "We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100."

Today's Ford vehicles already have technology that enables them to park themselves, understand a driver's voice commands, detect dangerous driving situations and assist with emergency braking. With these technologies and others that one day could allow a person to be driven to a destination, the driver always will need to be in control of the wheel if necessary.

"In the future, automated driving may well help us improve driver safety and manage issues such as traffic congestion and global gridlock, yet there are still many questions that need to be answered and explored to make it a long-term reality," said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford global product development. "With the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research project, our goal is to test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment."

The automated Fusion Hybrid will serve as the research platform to develop potential solutions for these longer-term societal, legislative and technological issues raised by a future of fully automated vehicles.

The Fusion Hybrid research vehicle builds on driver-in-control studies conducted in Ford's VIRTTEX driving simulator. Using VIRTTEX, Ford researchers study how to merge the capabilities of human and automated drivers to create a seamless, integrated experience.

Ford's Blueprint for Mobility
Last year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Bill Ford outlined Ford Motor Company's Blueprint for Mobility – a plan that describes what the automaker believes transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there.

Today, Ford is working on improving technology already used in vehicles on the road. This includes functions that alert drivers to traffic jams and accidents, and technologies for parking and for driving in slow-moving traffic.

In the mid-term, vehicle-to-vehicle communications will begin to enter into the mainstream. This will include some autopilot capabilities, such as vehicle "platooning," where vehicles traveling in the same direction sync up their movements to create denser driving patterns.

In the longer-term, vehicles will have fully autonomous navigation and parking. They will communicate with each other and the world around them, and become one element of a fully integrated transportation ecosystem. Personal vehicle ownership also will change as new business models develop. The benefits include improved safety, reduced traffic congestion and the ability to achieve major environmental improvements.

Tomorrow's technology, today
The Ford Fusion Hybrid was chosen as the test platform for the new research effort because it is among the leaders in offering the most advanced driver-assist technologies in its class.

These technologies include Blind Spot Information System, active park assist, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support. These vehicle sensing systems, offered on many Ford vehicles today, are the building blocks for the future of fully automated driving.

In North America, these technologies can be found on Ford Focus, C-MAX hybrids, Fusion, Taurus, Escape, Explorer and Flex. In Europe, these technologies are available on Ford C-MAX, Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy.

"Products such as Ford Fusion Hybrid give us a head start in the development of automated features," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford research and innovation. "Our Blueprint for Mobility aligns the desired outcomes of our work in automated functionality with the democratization of driver-assist technology found on today's lineup of Ford products."

Ford's Fusion Hybrid research vehicle is unique in that it first uses the same technology found in Ford vehicles in dealer showrooms today, then adds four scanning infrared light sensors – named LiDAR (for Light Detection And Ranging) – that scan the road at 2.5 million times per second. LiDAR uses light in the same way a bat or dolphin uses sound waves, and can bounce infrared light off everything within 200 feet to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.

The sensors can track anything dense enough to redirect light – whether stationary objects, or moving objects such as vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. The sensors are so sensitive they can sense the difference between a paper bag and a small animal at nearly a football field away.

Working together
Developing the necessary infrastructure to support a sustainable transportation ecosystem will require the collaboration of many partners across multiple industries. State Farm and the University of Michigan's robotics and automation research team are critical to creating the visionary research project.

Ford's work with others on the future of mobility is longstanding. Ford was an active participant in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-controlled autonomous vehicle challenges in 2004, 2005 and 2007, the year Ford extended its efforts to include the University of Michigan.

While Ford is responsible for developing unique components allowing for the vehicle to function at high levels of automation, the University of Michigan – under the direction of faculty members Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson – is leading in development of sensor-based technologies. The sensors aid in the logic and virtual decision making necessary to help the vehicle understand its physical surroundings on the road.

The university's researchers are processing the trillions of bytes of data collected by the vehicle's sensors, from which they can build a 3D model of the environment around the vehicle. The goal is to help the vehicle – and the driver – make appropriate and safe driving decisions.

"This research builds on the University of Michigan's long history of pioneering automotive research with Ford," said Alec Gallimore, associate dean of research and graduate education at the school's College of Engineering. "The unique collaboration will enable Ford to benefit from the university's deep knowledge of robotics and automation, and it will allow University of Michigan faculty and students to work side-by-side with some of the best auto engineers in the world."

Meanwhile, State Farm has been working with Ford to assess the impact of driver-assist technologies to determine if the technologies can lower the rate of rear collisions.

Last year there were nearly 34,000 fatalities due to traffic accidents in the United States. By developing more intelligent vehicles, Ford helps create smarter drivers.

"By teaming up with Ford and the University of Michigan in this research, we are continuing our decades-long commitment to making vehicles, roadways and drivers safer," said State Farm Chairman and CEO Edward Rust. "The changes new technologies bring to our lives are exciting, and we are always looking at how technology can better meet the ever-changing needs of our customers."

Setting the stage for mobility in Michigan
Today's Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle announcement follows an aggressive plan released this week by Business Leaders for Michigan to position the state as the global center for mobility and grow up to 100,000 new jobs in its auto sector by becoming a hub for excellence in advanced powertrain, lightweight and smart/connected transportation technologies.

With Bill Ford as champion of Business Leaders for Michigan's mobility initiative, the plan has been developed with a coalition of top industry experts, the Center for Automotive Research and McKinsey & Company. The plan identifies growth strategies for the auto sector as it transitions to an increasingly advanced technology-based sector.


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  • 41 Comments
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just in time for the holidays looks like it's sprouting antlers. Go Ford, no question autonomous cars are coming the more companies try out the technology the better it will become.
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a joke right? Antlers are only acceptable on a vehicle around Christmas time.
        Patrick
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        I have a 2002 Ford Escape, which has never caused me prob, except for normal wear and tear, and I just hit 225,000 miles... Has been everywhere from here (CT) to the western states, Canada, southern states,etc, mostly highway miles... Everyone I know that has a Ford never had a prob... Except when I was younger, had a 91 Escort, and that thing was a p.o.s, always had clutch problems. I guess it just has to do with luck...
          Ken
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Patrick
          Hat1701D. Stop faking it. There is no 2011 Taurus X.
          HAT1701D
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Patrick
          Had a 1998 Contour. Several problems including the valve train failing. My father just gave his 2011 Ford Taurus X back to the dealer because the My Touch/SYNC shorted out the electrical system not one, not two but three times and lost half the dash board instrumentation each time. The third time the refused to fix it even though the vehicle was still within warranty and had only 13,000 miles on it. At his age, he could care less about bad credit...Simply took it back to the dealer and shoved the keys across the counter.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      al4gg10
      • 1 Year Ago
      Doesn't Ford have Enough Reliability / Quality Issues without jumping into new technology when they can't Master the Basics ? Ford is THE WORST Major car manufacturer for Reliability / Quality BY FAR ! Every major category for vehicles is dominated by Fords at the VERY BOTTOM !! They should be trying to FIX Those Problems Plaguing the company right NOW !! I've seen the owners complaining the service managers say the car must Learn your Driving Habits ! While the Jerky Automatic Transmissions / Hard Highway Steering / Eco Boost Problems / MyFordSync disasters explode in customers faces ! Too BAD as Ford redesigned the vehicles & they actually drive well to a point ... just can't trust them to be reliable everyday transportation ... but isn't that why you want a vehicle to be reliable everyday transportation ?
        Meh...
        • 1 Year Ago
        @al4gg10
        Whoa buddy, slow down. You really need to work on your trolling skills; you came in way to fast with trying to cover way too many points in one incoherent paragraph. Bad move, since most readers don't consider anything beyond two lines if the comment is lame anyways ( Don't ask how I know because I'm afraid you might not be able to understand, just please know that I'm not attempting to troll here. I'm just calling out a badly played, amateurish trolling). You really should start with simple things like "Ford sucks" and pile on after that, or use a condescending passive-aggressive quip like "I didn't know Ford was capable of that, not bad for an American company", and say nothing after that, just watch the people take the bait and leave them hanging. Hope this helps ;-)
      white41990
      • 1 Year Ago
      I rather just invest in a safe car that gets me from point A to point B and not have to pay thousands of dollars extra for all these damn features that come on cars these days, only things that matters to me when I buy a car are safety/reliability, mileage, and MPG. For those who like to let those incoming calls and text messages distract them on the road as I pass you I hope you get in a fatal accident someday and let that distraction teach you the hard way, give me a good reason to turn up my radio when I hear another ones gone and another ones gone and another one bites the dust.
        dusty754
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        How does being killed in a collision teach the victim anything? I don't believe the dead learn anything and thus cannot be taught.
          rolanie3
          • 1 Year Ago
          @dusty754
          Haha! Yes! I thought the same thing: "I hope you get in a fatal accident someday and let that [...] teach you" LOL WUT?
        Roger
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        Bitter much? "I hope you get in a fatal crash" is a bit harsh don't you think? I personally feel the radio is a distraction people do not need while they drive. How many people were looking at their radio or making adjustments to the sound system or replacing a cd or tape and had an accident? How many people did not hear the emergency vehicle or train because their radio was on too loud?
        Brian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        Why are you here. Go away.
        Edge
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        Such a nice guy! Sheesh, some people!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        [blocked]
        JohnTaurus
        • 1 Year Ago
        @white41990
        Mileage and MPG? Well, that's a tough one. You might try a 1990s Honda Civic, I bet it has a lot of mileage and MPG.
      Timotheus
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll bet it can't tell the difference between a small animal and a paper bag if I put a hand-warmer in a paper bag!
      Tom Flanigan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Four Velodyne 32s! NICE! http://velodynelidar.com/lidar/hdlproducts/hdl32e.aspx Any company that is serious about highly capable autonomous vehicles is using Velodyne LIDARs.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom Flanigan
        They must be seriously dumb-ass at Oxford University: 'unlike Google's self-driving car, the British vehicle doesn't rely on an expensive LIDAR sensor. Instead, Oxford's RobotCar relies entirely on scene recognition (from cameras and lasers), matching live imagery with a preexisting database to figure out where it is, where to go, and what not to smash into.' http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/uk-affordable-self-driving-robotcar/ They are depriving themselves of the opportunity to spend several thousand dollars on these, and that is aside from the LIDARs interesting decorative look1
          Tom Flanigan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I can't believe I'm letting myself get pulled into this but I'll bite. Why is is surprising that I wouldn't know about Oxford's autonomous vehicle? Because they are one of hundreds of that are doing work just like this? Because this sort of technology is already being used in vehicles being sold to the general public? Because they didn't enter in any of the DARPA grand challenge events? Because the 2D LiDARs they are using are based on technology which is used in industrial warehouses which is not intended to be used outdoors? I hope Oxford will make a contribution to the field of autonomous ground vehicle technology but I don't see anything in the information you provided that shows that their methods are a significant advancement over the current state of autonomous technology.
          Tom Flanigan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I will not go into the details here but cameras suffer from major drawbacks but do offer capability for acceptable autonomy in some scenarios . I have worked in the autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) industry for years and followed it for over two decades and I can tell you there is a good reason to use LIDARs (in addition to other sensors). The link provided doesn't seem to indicate how many miles (or km) the Oxford design has logged, vehicles that have used Velodyne LIDARs as the primary obstacle detector and terrain sensor have logged millions of miles. It should also be noted that autonomous driving is not a binary capability, there is a wide spectrum of autonomy that depends on factors from intended operational environment, acceptable error/failure rate, to many other conditions. If Ford intends to provided a high level of autonomous capability in situations that a vehicle of this design would encounter during it's lifetime then a LIDAR will provide a superior level detection and safety when compared to an autonomous vehicle without LIDAR.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          In that case I am somewhat surprised that you are not at all familiar with the Oxford technology. Yep, degrees of autonomy vary, and so does the technologies used, but not the extreme unwillingness of manufacturers to have dirty great 3D LIDARs on their cars, preferring to incrementally improve less intrusive systems. Here is the Oxford project: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23330681 It uses the much cheaper and less intrusive 2D LIDAR Loads of other approaches from the likes of BMW and Mercedes here: http://www.driverless-future.com/?cat=4 They are certainly not going to put huge 3D LIDARs on their cars, although to be sure present autonomy is limited.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          Because DaveMart reads a lot of websites and tends to put research on equal ground with real world engineering. He has not yet figured out that most ideas actually fail for reasons not obvious from a report or study.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      What happens when these autonomous vehicles get caught in a snow storm and their 3d cameras are covered?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Everyone on the road dies all at once in an extra-fiery, hollywood style crash!!!!!!!!11112
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        It will automatically drive over the first trailer hitch and burst into flames.
        SHF
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Ford is using IR, so I'd imagine it would sort of be like using your TV remote under a blanket
        mapoftazifosho
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        I saw an autonomous Lexus driving through a snowstorm in Denver...seemed to be doing just fine!
      malgu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dang I want to work on this project.. maybe next year I'll try for this team #GoBlue #MichiganDifference
      HAT1701D
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Car can draw a picture of everything within 200 feet to create a map of its surroundings.".............." tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal from a football field away". Yep, because 200 feet and 320 are pretty close...pretty close, especially the faster and faster you go from in town driving up to highway speeds. Just trust that computer, trust it. Especially when a tire blows out and your in a computer controlled line on the highway making use of drafting for fuel efficiency.
      lazybeans
      • 1 Year Ago
      God save us from the teen texters. With this technology at least we have a fighting chance at survival.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lazybeans
        and drunk drivers, and sleepy drivers, and horny drivers ;)
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