Ford expands fleet of self-driving test cars

Ford enrichened its test fleet with twenty new Ford Fusions, equipped with more self-driving technology that the vehicles used until now for those purposes. New vehicles in the fleet which until now consisted of ten autonomous Fusion Hybrids, have more advanced driverless technology and reduced hardware.

Information that Ford Motor Co. expanded its pool of self-driving test vehicles producer announced today in the web post. Vehicles is being used for the development of an autonomous ride-hailing fleet, and it’s expected to be introduced in 2021.

The additional vehicles are Fusion Hybrid sedans

Vehicles are equipped with two lidar sensors whose laser beams are measure the distance to the first object in the 600 feet of range, three camera sensors and short- and long-range radar sensors capable of functioning in inclement weather. Lidar Sensors on the first group of vehicles in the test fleet have had a range of 200 feet. Unlike the original, new vehicles include an additional power generator to support the autonomous software’s computing functions.

Chief program engineer for Ford’s autonomous vehicle development division, Chris Brewer, wrote in the blog post: “A standard gas-powered car doesn’t have enough electrical power for an autonomous vehicle, so we’ve had to tap into Fusion Hybrid’s high-voltage battery pack, and even that isn’t enough.

Ford expects to operate Level 4 autonomous vehicles — which require no human intervention — without a steering wheel or brake pedal for its 2021 fleet; however, the new additions to its test fleet still contain those controls. The automaker is testing the vehicles in Michigan, California and Arizona and said it will triple the number of driverless prototypes to 90 in 2017.

Though Ford has been making progress in autonomous vehicle development compared with other traditional automakers, it is also competing with aggressive new entrants to the industry.

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