Ford is working hard to get Aussies ready for the transition to self-driving cars
WITH fully autonomous cars expected on the roads within the next four years, automotive company Ford is working hard to get Aussies ready for the transition.
Ford Motor Company Asia Pacific chief engineer Craig Sprenger said the release of the Everest Trend was playing an instrumental role in this transition.
“The Everest is laying the foundations of what is to come in the future,” Mr Sprenger told news.com.au.
With indicator lights on side mirrors to alert of vehicles in your blind spot, a lane departure warning system that vibrates your steering wheel and Active Park Assist, basic framework for autonomous technology is already being used.
According to Mr Sprenger, data is the key to ensure the company is on track to delivering self-driving cars by 2020.
Something Ford’s autonomous vehicles have a great deal of — given they collect and process significantly more mapping data in an hour than the average person uses on their mobile-phone in 10 years.
“There is data in terms of what the cameras are looking at, data in terms of the radar and many other sources,” he said.
“And if you look at how processing power has improved in recent years, the opportunity for growth is really exciting and offers endless possibilities.”
One such possibility being explored by Ford’s new wearables research laboratory is the integration of wearable devices and vehicles to enable driver-assist technologies to be more aware of the person behind the wheel.
Global manager for vehicle design and infotronics Gary Strumolo said the ever-evolving landscape of technology made this research a no-brainer.
“As more consumers embrace smart watches, glasses and fitness bands, we hope to develop future applications that work with those devices to enhance in-car functionality and driver awareness,” he said.
To give an example of how the technology might work, Mr Strumolo said if a driver’s heart rate increases as traffic intensifies, the vehicle’s adaptive cruise control could increase the distance between vehicles to give the driver more breathing room.
“Wearable technology integrated with the vehicle allows for more accurate biometric data to stream continuously and alert active driver-assist systems to become more sensitive if the driver shows signs of compromised health or awareness.”
Mr Sprenger said as customers get more exposure to the semi-autonomous features in Ford’s vehicles, the transition to fully autonomous will be much easier.
“People will get more comfortable with the idea and will be ready when the tech becomes fully available,” he said.
“We don’t want to create luxury autonomous vehicles; our plan is to make them affordable for everyone.”