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Ford partners with MIT, Stanford on driverless cars

Posting in Technology
 
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Last month, Ford unveiled its Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle to advance its driverless car technology. Now, Ford is announcing a high-profile partnership with researchers at MIT and Stanford to help more push the technology forward.

"To deliver on our vision for the future of mobility, we need to work with many new partners across the public and private sectors, and we need to start today," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and Vice President, Ford research and innovation, in a press release. "Working with university partners like MIT and Stanford enables us to address some of the longer-term challenges surrounding automated driving while exploring more near-term solutions for delivering an even safer and more efficient driving experience."

Ford has also announced driverless car partnerships with University of Michigan and State Farm.

Ford's automated research car already uses four scanning infrared light (LiDAR) sensors to create a real-time 3D map of its surroundings. But MIT will be tasked with developing advanced algorithms so that the car will "learn to predict where moving vehicles and pedestrians could be in the future."

Meanwhile, Stanford researchers will be exploring ways for sensors in autonomous cars to see around obstacles. As Ford explains: "For example, if the truck ahead slammed on its brakes, the vehicle would know if the area around it is clear to safely change lanes."

The idea is that driverless cars will eventually have the same intuitions as human drivers.

"Drivers are good at using the cues around them to predict what will happen next, and they know that what you can’t see is often as important as what you can see," said Greg Stevens, global manager for driver assistance and active safety, Ford research and innovation. "Our goal in working with MIT and Stanford is to bring a similar type of intuition to the vehicle."

The news is more positive momentum for driverless car technology. Though, to get to a driverless car future it might not be the technological challenges that will get in the way, but the political ones.

— By on January 22, 2014, 1:10 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure