Autonomous cars used to be as futuristic as flying cars, but car companies like Ford and Volvo are spending the profits they make from conventional cars on machines that will bring that future closer to now. The Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle is the American car maker’s introduction to the concept of self-drive cars and part of the firm’s Blueprint for Mobility.
Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility is the firm’s programme that is aiming at a future of autonomous cars and other advanced technologies. The new tech is being developed in collaboration with State Farm and the University of Michigan and builds on decades of research carried out by the Detroit car maker.
“The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility,” Ford Executive 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. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100.”
Ford are currently in a race with the Google Chauffeur and Volvo Drive Me projects to get to automated cars first. They have a headstart because they offer a lot of assistance technologies in their current line-up. Today’s Ford vehicles can park themselves and understand voice commands. Detecting dangerous situations and helping during emergency braking are also features offered in the current line-up.
In the future, self-drive cars will help improve road safety even further, and they will also help lower congestion according to Ford’s global product development chief Raj Nair: “In the future, automated driving may well help us improve driver safety and manage issues such as traffic congestion and global gridlock,” he said. “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.”