Watch Ford's autonomous car navigate a track in total darkness

By midian182 ยท 8 replies
Apr 11, 2016
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  1. While the manufacturers of self-driving cars are quick to put forward the claim that being driven by one of these vehicles is safer than having a human behind the wheel, a lot of people remain skeptical, especially when it comes to driving at night.

    Most self-driving cars use a combination of three sensors to navigate: radars, lidars, and cameras. The problem with cameras, however, is that they have trouble operating in low-visibility situations, such as when driving in snow, fog, and, of course, the dark. But Ford is showing how lidars - a system that uses lasers to detect and measure distances - enables its autonomous cars to drive safely at night.

    In the video, we see Ford testing a prototype self-driving Fusion at the company’s Arizona proving ground. The autonomous system uses a combination of prior maps and lidar to navigate the unlit track with the vehicle’s lights turned off.

    [Testing the car] in complete darkness basically took the camera completely out of the equation,” Randy Visintainer, Ford’s director of autonomous vehicle development, told Re/code. “The lidar being the active laser source was able to illuminate the space [in close proximity]. And you can see we could do the localization, object detection and tracking [with just the lidar]. That was the purpose of the test, to show the capability to continue to operate in the absence of the camera.”

    There were no vehicles or other moving objects in the test, but the technology, which Ford hopes will eventually be used in a commercial ride-hailing service, is still in the early stages of development.

    Ford plans start testing its self-driving systems in 30 more Fusions later this year. The company hopes this will ultimately lead to it developing four vehicles that can drive better than humans - especially at night.

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  2. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 474   +84

    Not interested by self driving cars.
  3. Master Yeti

    Master Yeti TS Rookie

    Seems like it could be pretty easy to crash an autonomous car with only a bundle of infrared light. It would be the perfect way to kill somebody, as it would barely leave any trace (except for the camera recordings prior to the light). Did anybody think of this yet?
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,724   +3,699

    I can only imagine as the roads fill with cars that use the same sensors, that each car embeds its own coded signal. This way each car can single out it's own signal and not get confused with the noise of other sources. It may seem like an easy task but matching this coded signal may prove more difficult than one would think.
  5. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    Total load of horse puckey. This was done on a closed, controlled course. Everything clearly marked, for the radar and other crap on the car to read and follow. And they still had a driver in there, with this hands practically on the steering wheel anyway. The complexity of making a car drive itself has a long way to go. Autonomous cars have to be able to adapt to all kinds of situations. I guarantee this thing would fail driving on the country roads where I live.
    Mandark likes this.
  6. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    If they believe in it that much one of them should step in front of it as a test but my guess is they are not that convinced either.
  7. Mandark

    Mandark TS Booster Posts: 76   +22

    True autonomous cars in 300 years, maybe, if we don't blow ourselves up.
  8. Master Yeti

    Master Yeti TS Rookie

    But there's a big difference in a human learning to drive, and a machine learning to drive. If one machine encounters a situation it cannot handle, it will learn from it, and then upload the data to all other autonomous cars. I'm pretty sure than within a matter of years, cars are better drivers than humans. And they kind of already are, but not in every way yet (e.g. off-road).
  9. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    Computers are only as good as the software, that humans created, which are not infallible.

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