A new Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle has been unveiled in the US as part of Ford's plan to test autonomous driving technologies.
Ford has partnered with the University of Michigan to develop future automated driving and driver-assistance technologies. The blue oval says the project is part of its "Blueprint for Mobility" plan, which aims to develop new technology for use on its cars from 2025 and beyond.
The move suggests Ford believes 2025 is a realistic target for autonomous vehicles. Mercedes-Benz and Nissan are both aiming to put autonomous cars on sale before 2020, while Volvo is already pushing ahead with a large-scale autonomous vehicle test in Sweden.
The Fusion Hybrid test vehicle builds on data collected from Ford's driving simulators, which tested drivers to see how human and machine inputs could work together in a self-driving car. The car is fitted with a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system which scans the road ahead 2.5 million times per second.
Ford says that it is already working on new technologies to alert drivers to traffic jams and accidents, as well as semi-autonomous functions for parking and driving in slow-moving traffic. The company plans to add some autopilot capabilities to its cars in the mid-term, while also looking at fully autonomous driving further ahead.
"[Vehicles] will communicate with each other and the world around them," reads a statement from the company "and become one element of a fully integrated transportation ecosystem. Personal vehicle ownership will change as new business models develop."