Ford has announced a series of new technology advancements, features and research projects at the Detroit motor show, including a study into how autonomous cars perform in snowy and wintery conditions.
Ford, which has a test fleet of 30 autonomous vehicles, is now testing autonomous vehicles in adverse weather conditions at the Universiy of Michigan’s ‘Mcity’ test facility, a 32-acre site that simulates a real-world urban environment.
The Ford test vehicles involved in the study don’t rely on typical GPS data or laser sensors to help navigate a snow-covered environment, they instead use high-resolution 3D maps that know all about the road and what’s above it, including signs, markings, buildings, landmarks, geography and topography.
This allows the car to know where it is in an environment even if road markings or signs are covered in snow, as it detects landmarks above the ground to pinpoint its exact location.
Ford is also developing software that will allow an autonomous car to detect deteriorating weather conditions, and decide if it is safe to continue driving autonomously or not.
Another project announced today is the opening of the Automotive Wearable Experiences lab at Ford’s R&D centre in Dearborn, Michigan.
This facility will look at wearable technology, such as smart watches, fitness bracelets and glasses, and how they can integrate with a car’s active safety features to allow the car to be more aware of a driver’s current physical and mental state.
Examples of what this lab will investigate include making a lane-keep assist system more sensitive if wearable technology tells the car that the driver didn’t get enough sleep the night before.