Fords latest self-driving car looks surprisingly normal

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Most of us can spot a self-driving car from a mile off because of the huge, bulky sensor arrays strapped to their rooves, but as s


 

Ford has pulled the wraps off of its second-generation driverless Fusion Hybrid just one week before the company is scheduled to show the car off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The most notable difference with the new generation is cosmetic — Ford has ditched the pipe organ-style suite of sensors on the roof in favour of a more streamlined look. Ford’s first autonomous car was undeniably alien, but from most angles the new version could easily be mistaken for just another car.

 

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In addition to the new car, Ford also says it plans to triple its fleet of driverless Fusion sedans to about 90 cars in the coming year. The company is already testing its original autonomous car in California, Arizona, and Michigan, and plans to expand those tests to Europe — starting with the United Kingdom and Germany.

 

 

Ford says that the improvements it has made to the project, which started three years ago, should keep it on track to hit the company’s target of creating a fully autonomous car that can be used by ride-sharing or ride-hailing services by 2021.

Chris Brewer, the chief engineer for Ford’s autonomous vehicle program, detailed the tech behind the new computer-controlled car in a post on Medium. Brewer says his team upgraded both the hardware and the software on the new driverless Fusion, allowing this version of the car to “see” two football fields of distance in every direction. Ford’s second-generation autonomous car will also generate one terabyte of data per hour, and that data is processed by the car’s brain, which is located in the trunk.

 

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The revamped driverless Fusion is a clear result of a number of investments and acquisitions that Ford made around the time the company announced its intentions to create a fully autonomous car by 2021. Brewer says that one reason Ford was able to streamline the look of the new car is that the new LIDAR sensors from Velodyne — which Ford and Chinese web giant Baidu invested $150 million in — have improved enough that Ford can get as much data using two of them as they used to with four.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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