Ford Partners With MIT, Stanford To Develop Autonomous Cars

To further its development of semi-autonomous and self-driving cars, Ford has formed a research partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

Ford will work with MIT to develop systems that allow autonomous cars to predict where vehicles and pedestrians will move next. The goal is for the cars to be able to pick a safe route around moving obstacles by "guessing" their future movements. With Stanford, Ford hopes to research ways to allow autonomous cars to see past obstacles. Ford uses the example of a driver inching his or her car over slightly to see around a large truck, for instance, and hopes a self-driving car could use similar methods to gather a complete picture of surrounding road conditions.

"Our goal is to provide the vehicle with common sense," Ford global manager for driver assistance said in a statement. "Drivers are good at using the cues around them to predict what will happen next… Our goal in working with MIT and Stanford is to bring a similar type of intuition to the vehicle."

Ford previously showed a semi-autonomous Fusion Hybrid sedan that uses four infrared LIDAR sensors atop the car to create a three-dimensional map of its surroundings. With that data, the car could drive itself around obstacles. The automaker has already teamed up with insurer State Farm and the University of Michigan on autonomous-car research.

Ford says it hopes that semi- and fully-autonomous cars will help reduce car accidents, and plans to launch self-driving cars on public roads by 2025. Other automakers have set slightly more ambitious deadlines. Volvo will begin testing a fleet of 100 self-driving cars by 2017, and Nissan plans to launch an autonomous car by 2020.

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