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Ford To Invest In Microweather Technology For Autonomous Cars

Ford To Invest In Microweather Technology For Autonomous Cars

This could be a game-changing technology in the field of self-driving cars

Ever wondered what will happen to the autonomous cars when the weather conditions are bad? What if it’s raining and your self-driving car gets cold feet err., cold tires? Ford has given it a thought and invested in a company called ClimaCell. ClimaCell specializes in "microweather" technology capable of tracking location-specific, short-term weather patterns; and it has caught Ford’s attention. The Blue Oval recently participated in a Series B funding round that raised $45 million for ClimaCell.

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Ford Expects Us to Trust its V-to-V Communication With Life and Death Decisions

Ford Expects Us to Trust its V-to-V Communication With Life and Death Decisions

It’s all about getting into a sync and keeping the rhythm

Ford is working on a technology known as Intersection Priority Management, and its whole purpose is to analyze how intelligent speed reductions can improve transit by limiting when cars have to stop at traffic signals or intersections. This system will use Ford’s vehicle-to-vehicle technologies to relay the information between nearby cars and city infrastructure.

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Siemens' Self-Driving Mustang Struggles Up the Goodwood Hill (Video)

Siemens’ Self-Driving Mustang Struggles Up the Goodwood Hill (Video)

Getting modern tech to work isn’t always easy

More and more automakers are entering the autonomous car business in an effort to make traffic safer for both drivers and pedestrians. But, while car makers are developing state-of-the-art vehicles, Siemens added self-driving technology to a first-generation Ford Mustang. And the pony car was just showcased at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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Ford and Volkswagen Aim to Create a Cost-Sharing Alliance

Ford and Volkswagen Aim to Create a Cost-Sharing Alliance

In a surprising move, Ford and the Volkswagen Group announced today that they are seeking a strategic alliance to increase competitiveness in the segment of commercial vehicles. Representatives of both companies addressed the public explaining that the potential alliance will enable them “to better serve the evolving needs of customers globally.”

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Lord Help US - Ford Wants to Put Ticket-Serving Autonomous Police Cars on the Road

Lord Help US - Ford Wants to Put Ticket-Serving Autonomous Police Cars on the Road

Say goodbye to sweet-talking your way out of a ticket

The race to develop autonomous driving technology is taking shape in a number of potential applications. For Ford, it’s not enough to have an autonomous car-sharing service or a self-driving car for the masses. The Blue Oval is thinking out of the box with a vision to put the technology into a police car. It may not be on the level of Skynet just yet, but Ford’s idea of a self-driving police car could be the future of law enforcement on the road.

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Ford to Push Technologically Advanced Cars to Stop Share Price Landslide

Ford to Push Technologically Advanced Cars to Stop Share Price Landslide

It’s time for Ford to get on-board with tech and quit relying on big trucks for income generation

Ford CEO, Jim Hackett, is looking to lead a technological revolution, saying that “dumb cars” have no place and Ford isn’t going to be left behind. The revolution begins by focusing on assisted, autonomous, and electric vehicles now and in the future.

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Ford to Show up at CES and NAIAS with an Autonomous Surprise

Ford to Show up at CES and NAIAS with an Autonomous Surprise

Ford moves one step closer to bringing autonomous cars to the masses

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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Ford CEO Wants To Sell Driverless Cars By 2025

Ford CEO Wants To Sell Driverless Cars By 2025

The goal doesn’t come without its challenges

Count Ford in as one of the many automakers pushing to develop autonomous driving technology but while others are developing their own tech for their own specific purposes, the Blue Oval is shooting for the stars with plans to start selling cars equipped with the technology to the public by 2025.

That bold proclamation came from no less than CEO Mark Fields, who made the plans known in a speech at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s not the first time that Fields has addressed the issue of mobility; he’s also made it a priority to introduce robot taxis and sell them to ride sharing services by 2021.

Given the changing landscape of the auto industry, it’s not uncommon for a company to start reevaluating its place in the industry, especially when a revolutionary technology like autonomous driving is on the cusp of redefining the business altogether. Fields believes that there’s a place for Ford to stake a big piece of that pie if the company can achieve its intended timetable.

That’s not to say that the automaker will be rushing the development and Fields himself stopped short of making any over-the-top promises until he gives a more detailed forecast of the company’s autonomous future. A meeting with investors is scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, and that’s where the CEO will pull the curtain on the company’s plans moving forward.

That said, the goal to sell self-driving cars by 2025 is a real thing and Mark Fields wants everybody to know that when it comes out with its technology, it’s going to be “accessible to millions.”

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Ford Wants To Offer Fully Autonomous Cars by 2021

Ford Wants To Offer Fully Autonomous Cars by 2021

Cars will first be offered for commercial use, including ride-sharing platforms

Ford has laid the gauntlet as far as autonomous driving technology is concerned after announcing a 2021 hard date on its plan to roll out fully autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals. It’s a bold move that circumvents the self-assisted driving technology that other firms like Tesla are doing, but the Blue Oval seems confident in its abilities and resources to have these vehicles out in five years for ride-hailing and ride-sharing purposes.

So while it still represents a big leap from self-assisted driving technology, Ford isn’t going for all the marbles in offering consumers a fully autonomous vehicle. That’s still part of the company’s plan in the long run, but over the short term, the objective is to expose its autonomous driving cars to the ride-sharing industry. A big part of that plan is develop vehicles that meet the SAE Level 4 standard of automation, which provide cars with abilities to handle all aspects of driving by itself that’s limited to a specific set of approved areas or regions. That setup works perfectly with ride-sharing companies like Uber, which, from the looks of it, will be one of the automaker’s target markets.

Ken Washington, Ford’s VP of Research and Advanced Engineering, explained the company’s rationale to The Verge, saying that “in a ride service, you could imagine that the defined environment or area might be large enough to take a customer from a city center to an airport or a seaport. Depending on how much of that environment can you capture in your high resolution map, you can define the area that you’re going to service with the vehicles."

In a lot of ways, Ford’s strategy is not unlike what General Motors is doing. The General has also announced plans to develop autonomous driving cars for commercial services. Tech giant Google is in on the same boat as it already has a test car with no steering wheels and pedals. Even Uber, presumably one of Ford’s future clients for its autonomous driving vehicles, is developing its own technology for the same exact purpose.

Only time will tell if Ford can live up to its set timetable but given how the industry itself has evolved into making autonomous driving technology its own top priority, we can all be sure that Blue Oval will have all hands on deck to get its technology up and running by 2021.

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Ford, Volvo, Google Launch Group To Champion Autonomous Cars

Ford, Volvo, Google Launch Group To Champion Autonomous Cars

Five-company coalition also includes ride sharing rivals Uber and Lyft

In what could very well be a landmark moment for autonomous driving technology, Ford and Volvo have teamed up with Google, Uber, and Lyft to form a coalition that will push for federal action to help expedite the development of autonomous cars. The group calls itself the “Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets” and it’s main objective is to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers, regulators, and the general public in an effort to raise awareness of the “safety and societal benefits” of autonomous vehicles.

The formation of this group is about as serious as it gets in championing autonomous driving technology. All five companies not only share a common interest in the technology, but they’re also bent on ensuring that the tech gets the proper exposure and awareness from as many sectors as possible. It’s even tabbed former NHTSA chief David Strickland to act as the group’s counsel and spokesman.

Strickland himself discussed the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Cars in a conversation with Reuters, where in he emphasized the main objectives of the group as it pertains to the creation of specific rules on how autonomous driving cars can be integrated into public roads. The former NHTSA chief also insisted that the group isn’t an organized lobbying formation, but merely a “full policy and messaging campaign movement.”

The formation of the group comes at an intriguing time, especially when you take account the NHTSA’s own plans to issue self-driving guidelines by July 2016. The agency hopes to release these guidance to states, policymakers, automakers, and companies that are involved in developing autonomous driving technology.

It remains to be seen how effective the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets will be in championing this cause. But the mere formation of the group and those involved in it paints a clear picture that all parties are all-in on the development of autonomous driving technology.

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Ford Fusion Autonomous Research Vehicles Start Testing At Night

Ford Fusion Autonomous Research Vehicles Start Testing At Night

Who needs headlights when you have LiDAR?

If you’ve ever been broken down in the desert late at night without the luxury of supplemental lighting, you know that it doesn’t get any darker. You could even say night time in the desert is something that nightmares are made of. But, if you’re a self-driving Fusion Hybrid with autonomous capabilities, that darkness doesn’t matter.

See, instead of relying on cameras to detect the car’s position, Ford’s Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles use the combination of high-resolution 3D maps, LiDAR, and radar to determine exactly where it is at. The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t need light to accurately pinpoint exactly where the vehicle is at, and that has now been proven as one of Ford’s Fusion Hybrid research vehicles has successfully navigated desert roads under the cover of complete darkness.

Jim McBride, Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles, said, “Thanks to LiDAR, the test cars aren’t reliant on the sun shining, nor cameras detecting painted white lines on the asphalt. In fact, LiDAR allows autonomous cars to drive just as well in the dark as they do in the light of day.” For those of you who don’t know, the LiDAR system actually pulses a laser grid 2.8 million times per second, just to scan the surrounding environment. When the information is combined with information from the radar system and the high-resolution maps, the on-board computer knows the car’s precise location.

This most recent nighttime testing session took place at the Ford Arizona Proving Ground with Ford engineers strapped in for the ride. With night-vision goggles, the engineers monitored the self-driving Fusion, but did not have to intervene during the testing procedure. Wayne Williams, a research scientist and engineer for Ford, said, “Inside the car, I could feel it moving, but when I looked out the window, I only saw darkness. As I rode in the back seat, I was following the car’s progression in real time using computer monitoring. Sure enough, it stayed precisely on track along those winding roads.”

So, as it turns out, autonomous cars like Ford’s Fusion Hybrid research vehicles don’t need the light to see where they are going. This experiment does demonstrate how far autonomous technology has advanced, but I doubt we’ll be seeing any light-less cars, autonomous or not, anytime in the future.

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Ford Conducts First Ever Snow Tests Of Autonomous Vehicles

Ford Conducts First Ever Snow Tests Of Autonomous Vehicles

As automakers all over the world continue to race towards autonomous driving technology, one company has beaten all others in testing driverless cars in snowy conditions. Not that it’s an achievement of some sort, but Ford has done it, becoming the first automaker to do so since Google, another company that’s already testing autonomous vehicles in the snow, isn’t technically an automaker…yet.

In any event, Ford said that it’s been running sensor tests for more than a year now and these tests have led to prototypes of its driverless cars to drive by themselves in a controlled, snowy environment. So how exactly was Ford able to become the first automaker to do this? According to the company, it recalibrated an existing technology among driverless cars. The technology is called Light Detection and Ranging sensors, or LIDAR for short. These sensors are installed in a handful of sections in the body of the car to help build a detailed view of the environment around the car. They function just like radar in their ability to rapidly fire laser lights away from the car and measure how much light is reflected back. But, since these sensors don’t work well in snowy conditions, Ford reprogrammed the sensors to instead detect landmarks that are above the ground, including road signs, traffic lights, and even buildings. Once these landmarks are detected, the car is able to compare this info to a high-resolution map of the road that it already has stored in its computer, allowing the car to navigate the road by itself even during times when road visibility are at its worst.

You could say that it’s an achievement by Ford, and in some ways, it is. But, autonomous driving cars being able to navigate around snowy conditions is just another piece to this entire puzzle that Ford and a lot of other automakers are racing to finish first. It’s nice to see that the Blue Oval is putting in the work to ensure that it crosses that line first.

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Ford Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles On California Roads

Ford Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles On California Roads

Ford’s presence in Silicon Valley was established back in 2012 with nothing more than a 15-person office, and just last January, Ford expanded that into a research facility with a team of more than 100 people. In that new facility, researchers, engineers and scientists have been working on automotive advancements like Camera-based pedestrian detection, sensor fusion, and other autonomous-driving technology – supporting Fords Smart Mobility plan.

Ford’s integration of its new research facility isn’t the only thing the automaker has achieved this year. Just this week, Ford announced that it has secured a permit to begin testing fully autonomous vehicles on public roads. The permit is limited to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Ford will be free to begin testing the Fusion’s autonomous capabilities on public roads in 2016. Ford has yet to release information on exactly when it will begin testing, but given how seriously it is taking the advancement of autonomous vehicles, connectivity and mobility, it’s a safe bet they’ll starting popping up on Cali roads sooner than later.

Obtaining the testing permit is a huge step in Ford’s Smart Mobility plan, and it was made possible by the team it has compiled in what is now the one of the largest automotive manufacturer research facilities in the region. Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO and President, said, “Our Palo Alto team has grown significantly this year, using research and innovation to explore and develop future mobility solutions,” he continued, “We’re attracting top talent from around the world to join our team in Silicon Valley, including employees from local technology companies and universities who want to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”

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Ford Obtains Patent For Backward-Facing Driver's Seat

Ford Obtains Patent For Backward-Facing Driver’s Seat

The idea of self-driving cars isn’t new – Google has been using them for a while, and other manufacturers like Audi and BMW have systems in development that are being tested in the real world as you read this. It is inevitable that at some point, your daily commute will be as simple as saying “go to work” or “take me to the grocery store” and kicking back while your over-intelligent car does all the work for you. Ford has taken the first step in joining the list of manufacturers with self-driving technology and has received approval of its patent for a backward facing driver seat.

The design isn’t all that dissimilar from the 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept that was displayed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The backward-facing seat would allow the driver (and passenger for that matter) to rotate the seats and engage with the rear passengers in a lounge-like setting while cruising down the highway. Another function would allow you to move to the rear seat and fold the front seats downward – making an ottoman that you could rest your feet on during longer commutes. All of this will be possible while the vehicle is in motion.

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