This year, Ford will add 20 new autonomous hybrid models (Fusions) to the company’s autonomous fleet. This will bring the number of Ford autonomous vehicles being tested on the road to 30.
Ford is using Velodyne’s Ultra Puck lidar sensors. They are characterized for their hockey puck size and shape. These devices have range of 200m, making them the first automotive lidar sensors able to handle different driving scenarios. These sensors will accelerate the development and validation of Ford’s virtual driver software – and are set to be part of the decision-making brain that guides all the other vehicle systems.
Ultra Puck lidar sensors can be stored in the wing-mirror and their targeted view allows Ford to reduce the amount of lidar sensors from 4 to 2 and still get the same amount of useful data.
Nevertheless hardware systems will continuously interact with the virtual driver and 3rd generation autonomous Fusion Hybrid vehicles will have supplemental features and will duplicate wiring for power, steering and brakes. These features will act as back-ups.
Ford was one of the first to use Velodyne lidar sensor, an innovation that significantly changed the autonomous vehicle scenery.
Lidar technology emits short pulses of laser light to scan precisely the surrounding environment millions of times per second and determine the distance to objects, allowing the vehicle to create a real-time, high-definition 3D image.