Ford is expanding on-road testing of its third-generation self-driving Fusion Hybrid to Detroit. The vehicles are already deployed in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Miami, Washington DC, and Ford’s home turf of Dearborn, Michigan; The Verge’s Andrew Hawkins went for a drive in a previous-gen model last year and found it quite adept at handling a variety of traffic scenarios.
“Every city represents a unique opportunity to make our self-driving system smarter because of the exposure to different road infrastructure design, driving behavior and even traffic light placement,” wrote Peter Rander, president of Argo AI, the startup that Ford has backed to lead development of its self-driving cars. “The collective knowledge we’re gaining by operating in five very different locales is a big part of the reason why we’re making great progress.”
Rander points to a number of improvements with the new third-gen car, including “a significantly upgraded sensor suite” with higher-res cameras, a revamped computing system that’s more thermal and noise efficient, and added safety measures like “redundant braking and steering systems that help maintain vehicle motion control in the event one of the units stops functioning.” (One of Ford’s self-driving vehicles was involved in an accident early last year.)
Detroit offers Ford “almost every kind of road you can expect to see” according to Rander, such as wide roads with unmarked lanes and narrower residential streets with overhanging trees. Corktown is where Ford’s self-driving efforts are based out of and as a result, Rander notes that engineering resources are close by when needed.