Ford recently unveiled a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that is solely dedicated to pursuing the future of autonomous driving and other advanced auto technologies.
The Blueprint for Mobility project is a systematic approach to identifying technologies, business models and partnerships to develop what Ford believes is what transportation will be like in 2025 and beyond.
It is backed by Ford’s experience in driver-assist technologies found in the Ford Expedition, Ford Explorer and the Ford Focus here in the Philippines. Its goal is to seek out and test current and future automated systems and driver-assist technologies to see which can be viable to Ford’s next generation of vehicles.
“The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility. We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Ford vehicles in the Philippines already have technologies that enable them to park themselves, execute driver’s voice commands, detect dangerous driving situations and assist with emergency braking.
“In the future, automated driving may well help us improve driver safety and manage issues such as traffic congestion and global gridlock, yet there are still many questions that need to be answered and explored to make it a long-term reality. With the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research project, our goal is to test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford global product development.
The automated Ford Fusion Hybrid will serve as the research platform to tackle the societal, legislative and technological issues that a future of fully automated vehicles will bring.
Studies conducted using the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid are done in Ford’s VIRTTEX driving simulator, which merges the capabilities of human and automated drivers to create a seamless, integrated experience.
Ford is planning to phase vehicle-to-vehicle communications into the mainstream, including some autopilot capabilities, such as vehicle 'platooning', where vehicles traveling in the same direction sync up their movements to create denser driving patterns.
In the long-term, Ford plans to have fully autonomous navigation and parking with vehicles that communicate with each other and the world around them, and become one element of a fully integrated transportation ecosystem. The benefits include improved safety, reduced traffic congestion and the ability to achieve major environmental improvements.
Current technologies available in Ford vehicles are Blind Spot Information System, active park assist, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support. These vehicle sensing systems are the building blocks for the future of fully automated driving.