Ford to Show up at CES and NAIAS with an Autonomous Surprise
Ford moves one step closer to bringing autonomous cars to the massesby Robert Moore, on
Ford introduced its Fusion Hybrid Autonomous vehicles just a few years ago, and just last year – in December of 2015 – Ford finally obtained the permit to test its self-driving fleet on public roads in California starting in 2016. As we’re all aware, technology has a habit of evolving quickly, leaving technology from even a year ago somewhat outdated by comparison. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Ford has been busy upgrading its autonomous fleet and has finally announced what we can expect with its next-gen Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle shows up at CES and the Detroit Auto Show.
With the Fusion getting a facelift for the 2017 model year, the new autonomous development fleet will also get all the little nips and tucks. But, what’s more important is the updated autonomous technology that has been integrated into this generation of test vehicles. The new fleet will use the same Autonomous vehicle platform but gets a significant increase in processing power to go with some new computer hardware. Ford didn’t divulge how in-depth the aforementioned upgrades are, but the electrical controls are closer to being production ready while it has also made adjustments to sensor technology with sensors placed in optimal locations. As you’ll see in the comparison images below, these come in the form of roof sensors that look like luggage racks and the placement of new LIDAR sensors on the A-pillars – a feature that gives the system a wider range of view.
Ford claims that the new-gen vehicle evolves the two primary elements of an autonomous vehicle – the platform itself (sensors, cameras, hardware, etc.) and the virtual driver system. Ford’s hoping to have fully autonomous vehicles on the market sometime after the turn of the decade, and this new-gen autonomous Fusion is the next step in meeting that goal.
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Why it matters
It might not seem like much to us, aside from seeing the new autonomous vehicles on the road, there is little effect on us. But, the current system has already proven itself in snow, and a few months after that, they began testing at night. This updated technology should push things to the next level and put Ford exactly in the place it wants to be for the start of a new year and its journey toward bringing fully autonomous cars to the masses. But, there is one thing to keep in mind. Nobody wants an ugly car or one that has a bunch of various protrusions hanging off of it, so by the time the technology is perfected, the autonomous vehicles will looks so much like the cars we drive today that it will be hard to differentiate the two. Now that the heat has subsided a bit from all of the autonomous-related incidents of 2015 and 2016, how do you feel about the idea of self-driving cars now? Are you more for them, or are you still poised to say “no way?” Let us know in the comments section below.
|Motor type||88 kW Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor|
|Battery||1.4 kWh Lithium-Ion|
|Battery Peak Power||35 kW|
|Projected Electric Mode Top Speed||85 mph|
|Engine||2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine|
|Horsepower||141 HP @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque||129 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM|
|Fuel economy city/highway/combined||43/41/42|