The successful evening drive performed by Ford’s autonomous Fusion has the auto industry buzzing, as nighttime driving is one of the biggest hurdles that self-driving cars face. Tested in complete darkness on a test course in Arizona, the vehicle relied completely on its Velodyne LiDAR technology and 3D maps of the area.
According to Ford researcher Wayne Williams, “…I was following the car’s progression in real time using computer monitoring. Sure enough, it stayed precisely on track along those winding roads.”
This incredible success has brought one particular question to the minds of individuals across the country: What is lidar?
The primary sensor system used by Ford, Google and other manufacturers working to create autonomous vehicles, lidar technology is rather different from the optical sensors used in the semi-autonomous vehicles Audi and Tesla have on the roads today.
The word “LIDAR” stands for the phrase “Light Detection and Ranging” and is essentially a laser light that analyzes its surrounding to create a high resolution digital image.
These laser sensors are located on the top and front of the vehicles, acting together to gather information on objects both near and far, constantly transmitting this information to the computer system inside the vehicle.
Ford’s successful nighttime test drive is being attributed in part to the high-resolution of the area, leading researchers to believe that autonomous, lidar-enabled vehicles will be restricted to well-mapped areas for testing over the course of the next few years.
Here at PermaPlate, we are interested to see where autonomous technology will take us, and are proud to keep your vehicle – autonomous, semi-autonomous or driver required – looking its best with our appearance protection programs.