Ford is the first car manufacturer to test a self-driving car at MCity – the Mobility Transformation Center at the University of Michigan. The 32 acre campus features several real-life road features including:
- 1000 feet North/South straight
- Various road surfaces including concrete, asphalt, brick, and dirt
- Different sized curves and ramps
- Two, three, and four lane roads
- Round abouts and tunnels
- Sculpted dirt and grassy areas
- Signs and traffic control devices
- Fixed and variable street lighting
- Cross walks, bike lanes, lane delineators, grade crossings, and curb cuts
- Hydrants and sidewalks
- Buildings, both fixed and movable
Ford developed their automated vehicle in collaboration with the University of Michigan and State Farm insurers, according to CNET. It is an Automated Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle. The Ford self-driving car will improve upon existing automation technologies including adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking, automatic braking, pedestrian detection, and lane assist.
Ford’s research vehicle features four scanning infrared light sensors that scans the road 2.5 million times per second. The sensors bounce light off objects within 200 feet to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment. The system is called LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging.
According to the Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, as reported by Business Insider, over the next five years, Ford plans to “migrate driver-assist technologies across [their] product lineup to help make roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability.” Ford also predicts that all their vehicles will have pre-collision assist and pedestrian detection by 2019. Their Silicon Valley research center will employ 125 people by the end of the year.
While Ford tests their vehicle at MCity, Google continues improving their automated car in Mountain View. Unfortunately for the Google tester, the police were patrolling the road. The Google Car was pulled over for driving too slowly, according to PC Magazine. The road has a limit of 35 mph, and the Google Car was driving at 25 mph. So it didn’t violate the law, but the police officer wanted to learn more about how the vehicle chooses speeds on certain roadways. Google caps the speed of its autonomous vehicle at 25 mph. It also waits 1.5 seconds at traffic lights after it turns green. Both are set for safety.