Today I had the chance to see a Ford Fusion self driving car. With all of the recent news it is easy to forget that Google and Uber are not the only players in this game. Most large auto manufacturers have a self driving car program, including Ford. Ford is already testing their self driving cars in Arizona, California, and Michigan. Ford says their vehicle is a level 4 self driving vehicle. Which means that they can drive autonomously but require a prior map of the environment with no human intervention. While I believe that is Ford’s goal, I have a hard time believing that they are actually at level 4 (I would say the same about Uber and others).
The vehicles are stock Ford Fusions’s. All that is added are the interior features (such as e-stop and autonomy buttons), computers in the trunk (which I was not allowed to see), and the sensor bar on top of the car.
When talking to a Ford engineer (responsible for vehicle behaviors) she said that the 3D cameras are used for detecting road conditions and looking for cars and people, while the LIDAR’s are used for mapping and navigation.
The Ford engineer said the 2 black whip antennas are stock and not part of the autonomy package. However when looking at the Fusion website I did not find an option that had those.
Have you seen the Ford vehicle? Give us information in the comments below?