Ford just upped autonomous driving technology with their successful testing of a Ford Fusion Hybrid that drove itself round a closed circuit on their Proving ground at Arizona in pitch darkness without any form of light, just using night-vision devices.
Watching the car achieve this feat makes one laugh out loud that while some of their contemporaries are still battling with getting an autonomous car drive in a straight line without hitting objects while even depending on the road markings to navigate, Ford has taken a frog-leap ahead to show who the boss is.
They used these Fusion Hybrid particular test subjects which can make its way through complete darkness by virtue of 3D mapping and laser sensors.
According to Jalopnik; “in finding exactly where it is on the road, the Ford uses its 3D mapping system to be able to know the road and surroundings—the road markings, geography, topography and other landmarks such as signs, buildings and trees. The maps work in conjunction with a LiDAR system of lasers, which scan the area around the car with 2.8 million laser pulses per second and help it to position itself.
Perhaps one of the creepier aspects of the self-driving car being able to navigate at night is that the people sitting inside of the vehicle truly couldn’t sit a thing outside. From Ford:
“Inside the car, I could feel it moving, but when I looked out the window, I only saw darkness,” describes Wayne Williams, a Ford research scientist and engineer. “As I rode in the back seat, I was following the car’s progression in real time using computer monitoring. Sure enough, it stayed precisely on track along those winding roads.”
Fantastic if you ask me. Though cars shouldn’t drive on public roads without lights but this feature can become useful in a lot of different applications and also shows the capabilities of the folks behind this project.