Before the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas next week, Ford has unveiled the second-generation self-driving Fusion Hybrid test vehicle.
The most noticeable change is cosmetic. Gone are the tall cylinder sensors mounted on the roof. In their place are a set of roof rails featuring new LiDAR sensors that give the vehicle a more targeted field of vision. This allows Ford to only use two sensors which provide the same amount of data if they were using four. Other improvements over the previous test vehicle include more computational and electrical power; computer vision and machine learning technologies; and highly-detailed 3D maps.
"The Virtual Driver's responsibilities can be slotted into three tasks: sensing the surrounding environment, using that perception to make decisions on the road, and controlling the car. The Fusion Hybrid's autonomous brain is located in the trunk, where the equivalent of several high-end computers generate 1 terabyte of data an hour - more than the average person would use in mobile phone data in 45 years," wrote chief program engineer Chris Brewer in a post on Medium.
These improvements plus an expansion of their test fleet to 90 vehicles should help Ford reach its goal of having a Level 4 autonomous vehicle - designed to perform safety-critical driving functions and monitor conditions during the trip - by 2021.
Source: Ford, Medium
Press Release is on Page 2
FORD DEBUTS NEXT-GENERATION FUSION HYBRID AUTONOMOUS DEVELOPMENT VEHICLE; CAR TO FIRST APPEAR AT CES AND NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW IN JANUARY
Ford Motor Company is introducing its next-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle, just in time for CES and the North American International Auto Show in January.
The new vehicle uses the current Ford autonomous vehicle platform, but ups the processing power with new computer hardware. 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.
The new vehicle also evolves the two main elements to creating an autonomous vehicle – the autonomous vehicle platform, which is an upgraded version of the car itself, and the virtual driver system.
The next-gen Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle follows the company’s current generation, which hit the streets three years ago.