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Rahul Chattaraj
Articles (59) 

Ford Targets 'Common Sense' in Robocars

January 23, 2014 | About:

Ford Motor (NYSE:F) announced on Wednesday that it would start working with two U.S. universities to initiate research for driverless cars. The carmaker has teamed up with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to work out ways to overcome “technical challenges” surrounding this segment.

The Detroit automaker recently flaunted the automated version of the Ford Fusion Hybrid research car at the Washington Auto Show. This sounds really exciting, but is having connected cars on the road really possible?

Driverless Ride – Dream or Reality?

Making a driverless car is no easy job. However, there are quite a few big names involved in examining the possibility of such cars. Mark Fields, chief operating officer of Ford, considers that connected cars are going to be the next big thing in the automobile space. He believes that it is possible to have such cars on the road that could “communicate with each other” and improve navigation and safety without harming the environment.

The company has plans to develop such cars which would be self-driven with some control from of a driver. The car would have sensors that would be able to sense moving objects like other cars and pedestrians.

Ford joined forces with MIT to develop technology that would help in foreseeing the action of such moving objects, so that the automated car could plan its own move and take a safer path to avoid collision. Its collaboration with Stanford University, on the other hand, is focusing on engineer technology that would enable the car to identify obstructions. The basic purpose is to add common human-like instincts in the vehicle that would ensure a safe ride. The automaker preferred to keep mum with regard to the amount it is putting in the R&D.

Other Players Working in This Space

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), mostly known for its electric cars, is also working on a similar concept which would require minimum supervision of the driver. Last September, the carmaker announced that it plans to build an “auto pilot” car in the next three years that would be 90% auto driven. This means that it would require only 10% of the driver’s control.

Search engine giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is also excited to come out with a driverless car. The company made seven “self-piloting” Toyota (NYSE:TM) hybrid Prius which have already covered a total of 140,000 miles on road. Other than outfitting Toyota, Google has also developed self-driving cars for Audi and Lexus. Japan-based Nissan (NSANY) and German giant Daimler are both working to make driverless cars.

The Road Ahead

Ford has set its road to develop techniques to build automated systems which would take over driving functions. The company is quite optimistic about the future of connected cars and believes that such vehicles would pave the way for next-gen vehicles.

People are mostly skeptical about auto pilot cars, but they happen to be safer than normal human driven cars. Automated cars are safer, environmentally friendly and most important of all, they don’t get distracted by the surrounding. The company is therefore investing in these technologies, making new collaborations and teaming with partners to build relevant systems to come out with the model by 2025. Are such robocars really viable? Would it really be possible to add basic instincts in cars? It’s just a matter of time.

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