Fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles are set to take to California streets next year, as Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto continues to grow.
Officially enrolled in the California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, Ford is embarking on 10-year autonomous vehicle development program. It is a key element of the company’s Ford Smart Mobility program combining connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, as well as data and analytics.
With a team of more than 100 researchers, engineers and scientists, Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is one of the largest automotive manufacturer research centres. The lab opened in January, expanding Ford’s presence in Silicon Valley, which dates back to 2012.
Rather than recruiting through car manufacturing, 80 per cent of the Palo Alto team joined Ford from the technology sector. The remaining 20 percent are Ford employees from the United States, China, Germany and Australia who bring automotive engineering and design expertise.
Says Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO: “Our Palo Alto team has grown significantly this year, using research and innovation to explore and develop future mobility solutions. We’re attracting top talent from around the world to join our team in Silicon Valley, including employees from local technology companies and universities who want to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”
Included on board the automotive vehicles are sensors that detect and track objects in the vehicle’s view, fusing information together to provide a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings – including street signs, other vehicles, even pedestrians. There’s also camera-based pedestrian detection with sensors serving as the eyes of a vehicle, allowing the car to see and sense pedestrians.