The American manufacturer has just unveiled an autonomous version of its hybrid car, built for research purposes. Equipped with cameras and numerous sensors, this version of the Fusion glides down the road with no one in the driver's seat.
This automated version of the Ford Fusion hybrid, which can analyze its environment and detect obstacles without human intervention, will be used to develop and enhance various automated driving technologies. Ford aims to position itself among the leaders in this field, and it has demonstrated cars that can park themselves, follow voice commands, detect driving hazards and trigger emergency braking when necessary.
In a partnership with the University of Michigan and State Farm, Ford developed the research vehicle as part of its vast "Blueprint for Mobility" program, which it says "envisions a future of autonomous functionality and advanced technologies after 2025."
The company estimates that in the mid-term, vehicle-to-vehicle communications enabling certain autopilot functions will become commonplace. Further in the future, Ford predicts that vehicles will be able to navigate almost entirely on their own, improving safety on the road and reducing traffic congestion.
Earlier this year, at its test center in Lommel, Belgium, Ford demonstrated a number of advanced autonomous functions -- including the ability to park itself and avoid accidents -- on a version of the Focus.
Ford is not the only manufacturer actively working to develop an entirely autonomous vehicle. Volvo recently made headlines with the announcement of a new pilot project, in which 100 autonomous cars will make their way along public roads around the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Nissan plans to market an entirely autonomous vehicle by 2020, and last September the brand announced that it had equipped a Leaf with a number of automatic driving technologies, enabling it to legally travel along Japanese roads without a driver. This was not the first time an autonomous car has been approved to take to the open roads: Google is already testing its driverless cars in California and Nevada.