Ford has presented a new autonomous research and development car Ford Fusion (Mondeo in Europe) Hybrid, a new version that increases processing capacity, with electronic controls already close to production levels.
They have been working on adjustments to LIDAR sensors and location, in fact now they only use two, not four, to get the same amount of data.
The five pillars of your virtual driver are:
– Sensors: LIDAR, cameras and radar. – Algorithms for the location and selection of routes. – Computer vision and learning. – High definition 3D maps. – Power of calculation and computing to handle this data.
This new system works with two ways of seeing automatically, treated perception and direct perception. The first of them generates 3D maps of everything around the car, so you know where the signs, crosswalks, traffic lights and other elements are. When on the go, it uses that information along with the LIDAR, radar, and camera sensors to permanently scan everything around the car. Direct perception is different, it complements the information to know the position of the car on the road, as well as mobile elements, such as pedestrians, cyclists, other cars, a police officer directing traffic, etc.
That second perception is much more sophisticated than the one discussed, but the mission of both is always the same: detect the environment, analyze data to make decisions and control the vehicle.
Ford's autonomous research car includes three cameras mounted on the roof bars, responsible for reading the traffic signals on the road, as well as radars so that it is possible to detect rain, snow or fog, sending all the information to a brain capable of processing 1 terabyte of information per hour.
It is that last point that is really complex, create software that is capable of making decisions from the collected data, generating impulses that reach the direction, brakes, accelerator and transmission. The functions need a lot of energy to run, and for this this type of car has an additional power generator, a traditional battery is not enough.
In 2017, Ford began testing autonomous cars on European roads, so it won't be long before we can see them on the streets.
Here is the presentation video: