The Ford Motor Company is on track to build a high-volume, fully autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle by 2021.
At CES and the North American International Auto Show in January, Ford is expected to show its next-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle featuring new new computer hardware, electrical controls and LiDAR sensors.
In a blog posting, Chris Brewer, chief program engineer, Ford Autonomous Vehicle Development, writes that the company plans to double the size of its Palo Alto research team by the end of 2017. Brewer cited work with four startups in areas such as advanced algorithms, 3D mapping, LiDAR, and radar and camera sensors:
Velodyne: Ford has invested in Velodyne, a Silicon Valley-based leader in light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors. The aim is to quickly mass-produce a more affordable automotive LiDAR sensor. Ford has a longstanding relationship with Velodyne, and was among the first to use LiDAR for both high-resolution mapping and autonomous driving beginning more than 10 years ago
SAIPS: Ford has acquired the Israel-based computer vision and machine learning company to further strengthen its expertise in artificial intelligence and enhance computer vision. SAIPS has developed algorithmic solutions in image and video processing, deep learning, signal processing and classification. This expertise will help Ford autonomous vehicles learn and adapt to the surroundings of their environment
Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC: Ford has an exclusive licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience, a machine vision company founded by neuroscientist Dr. Sheila Nirenberg, who cracked the neural code the eye uses to transmit visual information to the brain. This has led to a powerful machine vision platform for performing navigation, object recognition, facial recognition and other functions, with many potential applications. For example, it is already being applied by Dr. Nirenberg to develop a device for restoring sight to patients with degenerative diseases of the retina. Ford’s partnership with Nirenberg Neuroscience will help bring humanlike intelligence to the machine learning modules of its autonomous vehicle virtual driver system
Civil Maps: Ford has invested in Berkeley, California-based Civil Maps to further develop high-resolution 3D mapping capabilities. Civil Maps has pioneered an innovative 3D mapping technique that is scalable and more efficient than existing processes. This provides Ford another way to develop high-resolution 3D maps of autonomous vehicle environments.