Ford is moving ahead with its plans to develop an autonomous car, with help from MIT and Stanford. The Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has enlisted those two institutes of higher learning for new projects that will build on the research already done with the automated Fusion Hybrid prototype unveiled last month. It says the car uses technology that's already available to the public, with added LIDAR sensors that generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle's surroundings.
The MIT and Stanford research projects will help the self-driving car make the most of the available data. MIT will focus on scenario planning, to help predict the actions of other cars and pedestrians. Algorithms will allow the car to asses potential risks and plan the safest path around them, similar to the way a human driver anticipates being cut off by a distracted fellow motorist.
Stanford's research will focus on ways for the sensors to see around obstacles. Ford envisions this being useful when a car is stuck behind a tractor trailer. Normally, a driver might move to one side of the lane to peer around the truck, but researchers hope they can get the sensors to do that while the vehicle remains stationary.
To solve a similar problem, European researchers developed the See Through System, a "virtual windshield" that projects images in front of the driver, which are fed to the car via dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) from other cars with better vantage points.
Autonomous car research is part of Ford's "Blueprint for Mobility," which outlines what transportation will look like in 2025, and serves as a catchall for Ford's plans to adapt to those perceived changes.
"To deliver on our vision of the future of mobility, we need to work with many new partners across the public and private sectors, and we need to start today," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president for Ford research and innovation.