Ford tests self-driving vehicles in winter weather

By Product Expert | Posted in Industry Information, Technology on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 12:37 pm
How autonomous cars drive in snow

How autonomous cars drive in snow

Self-driving cars are the way of the future. It’s a future that has been promised to us by science-fiction and fantasy writers, not to mention brilliant real-world innovators, for decades. But you don’t really hear about how these vehicles would fare in terrible weather. On Knight Rider, KITT never drove himself through a nasty blizzard, did he? If autonomous vehicles are truly meant to leap from our fantasies to reality, horrible road conditions must be taken into account. We Minnesotans know just how brutal winter can be, and Ford knows it, too, given that the company is headquartered in Michigan. That’s why Ford is conducting tests to find out how autonomous cars drive in snow and other winter weather. Continue reading to see the tests in action.

Ford autonomous vehicle winter testing

Mcity is a 32-acre, full-scale simulated real-world urban environment located at the University of Michigan, and it’s where Ford is performing winter testing of autonomous vehicles. Ford is the first automaker in the industry to do such testing; other autonomous tests are conducted in dry and sunny climates, which does not adequately reflect all of the conditions drivers face. Ford is essentially acknowledging that around 70 percent of United States residents live in snowy regions of the country, so it’s vital to make sure these autonomous vehicles work in such unforgiving weather if these vehicles are to be successfully rolled out to customers from all over the country. Watch the video below for a demonstration.

Generally, autonomous vehicles use LiDAR to navigate, which is a pulse of laser light that the vehicle uses to create a real-time 3D image of its surroundings. But this technique does not work when the road conditions are not ideal. In order to properly steer through snow-covered roads, Ford autonomous vehicles use high-resolution 3D maps that show the road markings, signs, geography, and topography. These maps are created by the vehicle when driven through that environment during fair weather, and the vehicle can retrieve the maps when it drives through the area again in foul weather.

Prepare your vehicle for winter at Houston Ford!

Ford autonomous vehicle program

Ford is leading the way when it comes to the research and development of self-driving automobile technology. In addition to being the first automaker to perform tests in nasty weather conditions, the company recently launched the second generation of its autonomous vehicle platform with Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans that are equipped with advanced LiDAR sensors. Furthermore, Ford has decided to triple the number of vehicles in its autonomous fleet to 30, making it the largest autonomous vehicle fleet of all the automakers. The brand’s innovation is one of the many reasons Houston Ford is proud to be your Ford dealer!

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