Car manufacturer Ford has partnered with prominent universities to advance driverless technology.
Speaking at the annual Washington Auto Show, Ford’s CEO Mark Field said the car giant will start working with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers to address ‘technical challenges’ in the developing field of self-driving systems.
"In the long-term, we see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and with the world around them to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and achieve major environmental benefits," Fields said. "It is likely to bring fully autonomous navigation and parking."
During the event, the company showcased its automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research car, capable of operating on its own while only supervised by the driver.
The vehicle is fitted with ultrasound sensors and other sensing equipment detecting objects around the vehicle such as pedestrians, cyclists, other vehicles or animals.
The partnership with America’s two prominent universities aims to advance the technology and eventually equip the car with its own ability to assess the traffic situation. The MIT team will try to incorporate algorithms predicting actions of moving objects around the car, aiming to eventually allow the vehicle to perform automated avoidance manoeuvres to prevent collisions. The Stanford-based team will try to design ways to allow sensors to see behind obstructions.
"Drivers are good at using the cues around them to predict what will happen next and they know that what you can't see is often as important as what you can see. Our goal in working with MIT and Stanford is to bring a similar type of intuition to the vehicle," said Greg Stevens, Ford's global manager for research in driver assistance and active safety.
Ford believes that fully automated driving, as well as alternative fuel vehicles and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, will play a central part in future personal transportation. The company is investing into technology development, aiming to get the technology ready by 2025.
"Our goal is to offer a level of technology in which a driver is still in control and still able to enjoy the driving experience, but in a better, safer and more efficient way," Fields said.