Ford Going Autonomous With Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle

Ford has revealed Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicles that will be used to study automated driving and other advanced technologies.

This study will be made in conjunction with the University of Michigan and State Farm.

Described by Ford as the result of an ongoing project that builds on more than a decade of Ford’s automated driving research, the Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle will test current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies.

Ford said its goal is to advance development of new technologies with its supplier partners so these features can be applied to the company’s next generation of vehicles.

“The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment. By doing this, Ford is set to have an even greater impact in our next 100 years than we did in our first 100.”

Today’s Ford vehicles already have technology that enables them to park themselves, understand a driver’s voice commands, detect dangerous driving situations and assist with emergency braking. Ford explained with these technologies and others that one day could allow a person to be driven to a destination, the driver always will need to be in control of the wheel if necessary.

“In the future, automated driving may well help us improve driver safety and manage issues such as traffic congestion and global gridlock, yet there are still many questions that need to be answered and explored to make it a long-term reality,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford global product development. “With the automated Ford Fusion Hybrid research project, our goal is to test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment.”

The partners in the study said the automated Fusion Hybrid will serve as the research platform to develop potential solutions for these longer-term societal, legislative and technological issues raised by a future of fully automated vehicles.

Ford added the Fusion Hybrid research vehicle builds on driver-in-control studies conducted in Ford’s VIRTTEX driving simulator. Using VIRTTEX, Ford researchers study how to merge the capabilities of human and automated drivers to create a seamless, integrated experience.

This Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle announcement follows an aggressive plan released this week by Business Leaders for Michigan to position the state as the global center for mobility and grow up to 100,000 new jobs in its auto sector by becoming a hub for excellence in advanced powertrain, lightweight and smart/connected transportation technologies.

Bill Ford is acting as champion of Business Leaders for Michigan’s mobility initiative; Ford said the plan has been developed with a coalition of top industry experts, the Center for Automotive Research and McKinsey & Company. The plan identifies growth strategies for the auto sector as it transitions to an increasingly advanced technology-based sector.