Ford Starts Winter Smart Car Testing

Ford Autonomous car test

Next step in autonomous vehicle testing will see Ford cars deal with sleet and snow


Ford is starting a winter weather testing programme for its self-driving vehicles to see how they cope in conditions such as sleet and snow.

The initiative was announced the Detroit Motor Show, with the company noting that such weather was currently affecting its Michigan headquarters.

Let it snow

ford logoThe tests involve seeing how LIDAR systems, which are able to detect and place the smart car within its environment, fare in inclement weather conditions.

LIDAR typically uses a number of cameras to constantly take photo or video representations of the car’s surroundings to ensure the vehicle isn’t steering off the road or into obstacles, which are greatly hampered by snow or fog.

Ford is now looking to use LIDAR to detect landmarks above the road surface, which will then work with stored high-resolution maps of the route in order to help the vehicle to drive.

Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the company announced it would be tripling the size of its autonomous vehicle testing fleet, adding 20 Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicles to bring its number to about 30 vehicles – the largest of any major manufacturer in the world.

Ford hopes the second-generation vehicle fleet will hope it to test many of the computing and sensor components required to achieve the next level of autonomous driving capability, which would not require the driver to intervene and take control of the vehicle at any point.

The manufacturer has apparently also secured a tie-up with Google to work together on the development of self-driving vehicles, with the two companies working together to create smart cars within the next few years.

Google recently revealed its autonomous vehicle operations will now form a separate part of its business, creating a new company under the Alphabet umbrella to oversee the work.

The new business will reportedly launch a fleet of vehicles offering rides for hire in locations such as college campuses, airports and corporate business parks, with San Francisco and Austin set to be the first locations.

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Author: Mike Moore
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