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Ford to Hit California’s Streets with Driverless Cars

Ford has recently announced it has enrolled in the California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program, and it will start testing its driverless Ford Fusion Hybrid on the Golden State’s public roads starting next year.
Ford Fusion Hybrid driverless car 1 photo
The Michigan-based company joins other carmakers, such as Nissan, Volkswagen or Google, which also test their fully autonomous cars in normal conditions on California’s public roads.

The car manufacturer chose California for reasons like its weather, which permits testing all-year round, the state’s unique road infrastructure or unusual transportation scenarios.

This isn’t Ford’s first testing of its fully autonomous cars. Its driverless vehicles are already wandering around the company’s proving grounds in Romeo, Michigan, Wittmann, Arizona, and also Mcity, the 23-acre simulated urban environment at the University of Michigan.

These tests are part of Ford Smart Mobility, a 10-year autonomous vehicle development program. Introduced nearly a year ago, this plan develops cars with additional internet connectivity and different forms of transportation, and it uses big data analytics to learn more about how people travel.

Ford makes continuous efforts to innovate in this matter, as it also opened a research lab in Palo Alto in January. The lab started with 15 employees and has now expanded to 100 researchers, engineers and scientists.

Until now, the laboratory has used the virtual test drive to study how driverless cars interact with pedestrians, and it has conducted studies on how the sensors will read street signs or other vehicles.

According to Fortune, the company’s lab hasn’t forgotten about charity, and together with Riders for Health, they have collected GPS data and mapping coordinates to make health care, medication and vaccine deliveries throughout rural Africa.

California seems to be the Holy Land for driverless cars since most major automakers are testing their fully autonomous technologies on the state’s public roads. Nevada comes second, as Kia Motors was recently granted permission to test its self-driving car on the Silver State’s streets.


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