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2014 Ford Mondeo testing autonomous driving technologies (video)

Fri, 13 Dec 2013

The Ford Fusion with its LIDAR ears allowing autonomous driving

Car makers are starting to take self-driving, autonomous cars very seriously, and we’ve recently seen Mercedes testing their autonomous driving S-Class in Berlin, Volvo planning a big trial of 100 self-driving cars in Gothenberg and Tesla planning systems that will do 90 per cent of your driving within 3 years. Now it’s Ford’s turn. Ford has equipped a Fusion Hybrid (that’s the North American version of the new Ford Mondeo we still haven’t got in the UK) with its autonomous vehicle technology to conduct research in partnership with the University of Michigan and State Farm (a big group of insurance companies in the US).

The test Fusion gets a system called LIDAR (light detection and range – the funny looking ears on the top of the Fusion in the picture above) which can scan the road ahead up to 2.5 million times a second and create a 3D map of the surroundings. LIDAR is able to detect  any object dense enough to bounce light back and is clever enough, say Ford, to tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal even at a big distance. Which could be handy.

However, Ford seem to be a bit behind the curve as they don’t reckon their autonomous cars are going to be mainstream ready until 2025, whereas Tesla will be ready in 3 years, Mercedes by 2020 and Volvo’s fleet of 100 self-driving cars will be rolling round Sweden in 2017.

But be in no doubt – self-driving, and self-parking, cars are coming to a car showroom near you soon.

By Cars UK