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Ford Self-Driving R&D Car Tells Small Animal From Paper Bag At 200 Ft. 207

Posted by samzenpus
from the where-you-going? dept.
cartechboy writes "Autonomous driving is every car manufacturer's immediate R&D project. In car-building terms, even if a new technology isn't due for 10 years — since that's just two full vehicle generations away-- it has to be developed now. So now it is for autonomous car research and testing, and this week Ford revealed a brand new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle built for autonomous R&D with some interesting tech capabilities. Technologies inside the new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle include LIDAR (a light-based range detection), which scans at 2.5 million times per second to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment at a radius of 200 feet. Ford says the research vehicle's sensors are sensitive enough to detect the difference between a small animal and a paper bag even at maximum range. More road-ready differentiations include observation and understanding of pedestrians, cyclists, and plain old stationary objects. Ford is working on this project in cooperation with the University of Michigan."
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Ford Self-Driving R&D Car Tells Small Animal From Paper Bag At 200 Ft.

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  • Noise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:12AM (#45678873)

    I wonder about all these active technologies; lidar, radar, ultrasonic, etc. They work very well when there is only one vehicle in the area. What happens on a crowded freeway when there are a couple hundred vehicles an the area pumping out all those emissions? Wouldn't it be difficult to differentiate between returns due to your emitters and the emitters from other vehicles? Unless each emitter is working on a different frequency interference is a possibility. There is also the issue of sensors being sensitive enough to detect return but filtered enough not to be dazzled by the direct emissions from other vehicles close by.

  • Re:Moore's law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:06AM (#45679029)

    It will be interesting to see how the end of Moore's law will affect this and similar projects.

    Maybe programmers will learn the nearly lost art of writing efficient code.

  • Re:Noise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:48AM (#45679151) Homepage

    It generally isn't a problem because single readings are never used. They are always averaged over time and combined with other sensors. They also pulse their output and can detect interference and adjust their timing randomly to avoid it.

    Think about how many devices manage to share unlicensed radio spectrum and how few cars will be that close together. The reason for having so many sensors is that if any one fails the others can make up for it.

    Of course it will still fail from time to time, but less than a human.

  • by blackbeak (1227080) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:58AM (#45680049)
    The autonomous car deftly picks up the cat via robotic arm extension without even needing to slow down, reconfigures the route plan to stop by the nearest animal shelter, and automatically drops cat in the shelter's autonomous stray animal receptor.
  • Re:Noise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swb (14022) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:10AM (#45680171)

    My Volvo S80 has radar for the collision avoidance feature and the distance-sensing cruise control.

    The only problem I've ever had with it has been in snowstorms where the radar panel gets covered with snow and ice -- the dash display will then show "radar blocked."

    On the other hand, my Valentine 1 radar detector will false on other cars radar detectors and some automatic doors on commercial buildings.

    About the only other problem I've had with the distance sensing cruise has been getting behind cars driving slightly slower than my set point and not noticing that I'm going a little slower than I want to drive. My car will basically follow the other car and match its speed transparently until it goes faster than my cruise set point.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel