Earlier this year Ford said it will triple the size of its autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid test vehicles, announcing plans to test 30 vehicles on roads in Arizona, California, and Michigan. ZDNet recently spoke to Jim McBride, technical leader in Ford's autonomous vehicles team, about the future of driving. ZDNet: Where is Ford's autonomous vehicles project now? You need to make the vehicle generically robust to all sorts of scenarios, but the scenarios that you do anticipate happening a lot, for example people violating red lights at traffic intersections, we can, under controlled conditions, test those very repeatedly.
Two miles apart in Palo Alto, workers from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are hustling to establish a role for their companies in a future in which consumers don't own cars and the vehicles steer themselves. On Thursday, it became ever more clear that the Michigan automakers and their West Coast outposts won't be going at it alone. They'll be depending big time on software-developing neighbors in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Ford announced an 182.2-million investment in Pivotal Software Inc., a San Francisco company whose programs are already used by the likes of Lockheed Martin and Allstate Corp., to quickly develop their own computer applications. "Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise," Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields said in a statement.
Google's self-driving car just got a boost from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. SAN FRANCISCO - Federal auto safety and standards regulators should set rules governing self-driving cars and not state agencies that may not have the technological know-how to assess the rapidly evolving technology. Urmson was one of a variety of auto experts speaking at a Stanford University forum organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is soliciting comments as it aims to establish a set of guidelines later this summer for companies developing autonomous cars. Last fall, concern over a lack of such guidelines led Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson to caution that "the absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states."
The unmistakable glare of car headlights cutting through the darkness on roads at night could soon vanish thanks to new self-driving technology. Car giant Ford has revealed it is testing the ability of its autonomous vehicles to navigate in pitch black conditions without any headlights. The cars use laser sensing technology, called LiDAR, to map the vehicles' surroundings with infrared light, allowing them to steer along even the most winding country roads. Ford has tested its self-driving cars on winding country roads in pitch darkness to show that the vehicles can navigate at night without any headlights. Ford said it is essential its self-driving vehicles are able to stay on the road at times of the day when they are not able to use its camera technology as there is not enough light.
The car business these days is all about change: automakers becoming "mobility providers," electric cars potentially displacing gas-powered vehicles, even autos driving themselves. For nearly a decade, Sheryl Connelly has been Ford's manager of global consumer trends and futuring. A cynic might have said that the autonomous driving vehicle is a lovely idea that captures the imagination of the public, but it will never see the light of day. DeBord: As Ford evolves to be a mobility provider, a discussion is emerging about data.