Ford has announced the creation of the fully autonomous cars by 2021 to make the drive-sharing experience available for millions of people.
To be able to do that, Ford started the close cooperation with four new companies. Some of them were acquired by Ford and some received the exclusive license to supply the technology. Ford also doubles the team of researchers and developers in their Silicon Valley’s lab to achieve the goals to create the hardware and software.
As the representative of Ford says, it is hard to tell how exactly such cars will look like, as the current goal is the elaboration of software & hardware to be installed on them. The step number two will be the creation of vehicle’s outward appearance and the legislative approval of the area of use.
The companies that they cooperate with are:
• Velodyne (investments), the producer of LIDAR sensors that must enhance the technology of orienting in the environment and to deliver more precise data on the central computer of a car,
• SAIPS (acquisition), the producer of self-learning software for computers and cars,
• Nirenberg Neuroscience, LLC (exclusive licensing), the maker of ‘virtual retina’ technology – the one that makes the artificial ‘eye’ sensible to perception of the picture projected on it (it will make a car literally see the pictures obtained from the cameras and radars),
• Civil Maps (investments), a company that makes 3D maps that Ford cars will create and use during the process of scanning the environment.
Ford had 30 cars equipped with self-driving technologies and they planned to treble this amount by the end of 2017. All cars are currently running the streets of California and the strategic goal is to provide all cars with SAE Level 4 standard of automation that would allow all vehicles using it to be deprived of a steering wheel, pedals, and gears in the salon. The aim that Ford strives to reach with such enhancement is to create the fleet of fully autonomous cars that would be able to:
• Collect passengers from the specified location and drive the route safely,
• Return to the base when the assignment is over,
• Receive the charge of energy to be prepared for the next assignment,
• Communicate to other cars with this technology to collect and share the data about the environment, download the 3D maps of the world from the Internet and so on.
It is planned that such cars will be able to run the passengers within the technologically fenced area in order not to drive over the borders. This will allow the driver to turn to passenger and enjoy the ride doing practically nothing, along with other people in the salon. This will also cease the necessity to possess an own car as if there will be a big fleet of such autonomous vehicles, people even of the average income will be able to use the progressive technologies, though limited to some areas only, where the approval to use will be obtained. For example, the car may be restricted to Ney York only with the legislative boundaries but even further, the company owner of a car can limit its action only to Manhattan, for instance, if finds it necessary. It is the giant step towards the creation of taxicabs without a driver and the reduction of cost of the ride. Or even it could be an artificial limitation to some routes only, like to get to the airport from some hotels. It will allow hoteliers to have own fleet of autonomous cars that will deliver their guests in and out without the necessity to hire additional people to drive these cars.
Ford also plans that cars with SAE Level 4 standard of automation will deliver the medicines to the people of Africa in need, even to the most distant or insecure areas.