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Fords LIDAR Technology...

14 June 2016, 12:53 PM

When it comes to staying at the forefront of automotive tech, Ford cars are no strangers to leading the field by innovation. The iconic manufacturer has been known right since the days of the Model T, as brand that puts innovation at the forefront of its automotive quests. Autonomous driving cars have quickly emerged as the next frontier that every car brand worth their manufacturing chops is trying to hoist their flag over. It is no surprise to see the ‘Blue Oval’ then trying to steal a march over the rest.

Ford’s LIDAR technology is just another example of how the manufacturer is pursuing all possible avenues to stay ahead of the game. The term Lidar stands for light detection and ranging. Simply put, it is mapping an object or the environment through a light scan. Laser beams are used to illuminate the surroundings, and the vehicle accordingly then navigates its way around obstacles based on the readouts.

Ford cars are built around the edifice of innovation and the manufacturer recently took one of its ‘Focus’ models used in autonomous car research to its testing grounds in Arizona, USA. Night driving or deteriorating light conditions is a huge contributor to road fatalities, and Ford believes that autonomous cars will be superior to humans in this aspect. Till date, critics have been vocal about the fact that self-driving cars will still fall short when compared to human processing & experience. However, in reduced light conditions, Ford’s tests have proved that self-driving cars may prove to be the better choice.

In conditions where a human driver would have struggled to find their way, Ford’s Lidar technology, helped the ‘Focus’ test-car to navigate its way around the track in pitch darkness. All this without the use of camera-sensing lane markings and in the absence of sunlight. The system used an astounding 2.8 million laser pulses per second along with specially drawn up high-resolution 3D mapping support to achieve this feat.

The manufacturer is cautious to admit that it is still early days for the system and there’s a lot that needs to be done before it can go mainstream. But the promise that it holds cannot be ignored. Just like the earliest radar-based cruise control systems in cars, Ford’s Lidar technology shall transform the way we look at autonomous driving vehicles.

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