Ford is mashing the dash on its plans for autonomous vehicles.
Having already dedicated a separate research and development team focused solely on autonomous driving — like Google and, reportedly, Apple have as well — Ford announced Tuesday it is tripling the size of its autonomous on-road testing, pushing its self-driving and virtual-driver software capability to its limits.
To help its cause, Ford is integrating the all-new Velodyne Ultra Puck auto sensor into its Fusion hybrid/autonomous vehicles to help out with 3D mapping and precision during its testing. The Ultra Puck will be embedded into the Fusion's side mirrors during the on-road tests.
The announcements came via Ford's press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (2016) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where the automaker's CEO, Mark Fields, was joined onstage by CTO Raj Nair.
"We'll have about 30 Fusion hybrid/autonomous vehicles on roads and test tracks in California, Arizona, Michigan — including the all-new M City, a simulated urban environment at the University of Michigan," Nair said.
While this may come across as a recent push into the space, Fields reminded media in attendance that it has actually been invested in autonomous technology since 2007.