Ford’s Next-Gen Test Vehicle Lays Foundation for Self-Driving Business

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By John Davis, Chief Engineer, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC

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A fourth-generation self-driving test vehicle from Ford and Argo AI

Launching a self-driving service is complex. Many different pieces need to come together to create a trusted and scalable self-driving service that provides value to customers and the cities they operate in. At Ford, we are taking a thoughtful approach to how we bring together all these pieces to help shape the future of self-driving vehicles. One important part of this service is the vehicle, which will allow us to stand up our self-driving business.

Meet the Fourth Generation Self-Driving Test Vehicle: Beginning to roll out this month, Ford and Argo AI‘s fourth-generation self-driving test vehicles are built on the Escape Hybrid platform and feature the latest advancements in sensing and computing technology. The Escape Hybrid is also the architecture and platform we have chosen to use to bring our autonomous vehicle service online.

What This Means for our Self-Driving Service: The systems we’re incorporating into our newest test vehicles are “launch-intent” in terms of the components we believe will be needed to support commercialization. What this means is that with a well-defined architecture and platform in the Escape Hybrid, our team can continuously test and refine performance over the coming years to better prepare us for launch. Everything we learn while using them can be channeled directly into our self-driving service as soon as it starts serving customers.

Here is a glimpse of the engineering advancements you’ll see on the new vehicles.

In a statement sent by media alert saying The new Escape-based test vehicle hosts an upgraded sensing suite and efficient hybrid powertrain.

1. Getting a Sense for the Road. We have upgraded our sensing suite with even more advanced LiDAR, higher resolution cameras and more capable radar sensors.

2. Battery Power That Really Delivers: Powering these sensors, as well as our state-of-the-art computing systems is the increased electrification capability of the Escape Hybrid.

3. Attention to Detail Sensor Cleaning: Over the last year, our team has refined the sensor cleaning system we developed based on on-road testing with our previous-generation test vehicles. Keeping our sensors clean from rain, dirt, debris and even insects is very important to ensure our vehicles can better “see” the world around them in a variety of challenging conditions.

Why This Matters — How This Lays the Foundation for Our Business:

What’s Next: As they become ready for deployment, we will gradually integrate these fourth-generation vehicles into our multi-city testing efforts alongside our Fusion Hybrids in Austin, Detroit, Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

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