The car maker will provide two prototype cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability to help test a public transport system. Ford also intends to work alongside other manufacturers to study how driverless and connected cars can be integrated into everyday life, the company said.
Ford believes that vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity technologies such as those that will be tested in real-world urban environments during the UK Autodrive programme will contribute to the development of fully autonomous vehicles.
A range of semi-autonomous vehicle features are already available in Ford cars, including Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Active Park Assist. Another feature, Traffic Jam Assist, is also in the works.
Now, a fleet of fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicles is undergoing further development and ongoing road testing as Ford shifts its autonomous vehicle efforts from a research programme into a vehicle development programme.
The prototype vehicles use the same semi-autonomous technology that is available in Ford vehicles today, with the addition of four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
According to Ford, this technology allows the vehicle to sense objects around it and advanced algorithms are used in conjunction with high fidelity maps to help it determine where vehicles and pedestrians are located and to predict where they might move.
The company explained that one of the trends driving its thinking around innovation in mobility is urbanisation, which is putting pressure on existing road infrastructures and creating a need for smarter cars, smarter roads and smarter cities.
Simon Spooner, Head of Automotive at Osborne Clarke commented “It’s an exciting time for the car industry. Urban mobility and how the use and ownership of cars will interact with intelligent transport systems in our cities of the future will be a central part of smart cities thinking over the next few years.”