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Ford’s self-driving car technology at CES 2016

Ford Fusion Hybrid Self-Driving Car components

Mechanisms of the Ford Fusion Hybrid Self-Driving car prototype at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

(Originally from Jonathan M. Gitlin – Ars Technica)

As we’ve noted elsewhere, CES has now evolved to be part car show. But not just any car show—the focus is on how technology is transforming the car, and nowhere is that more evident than in autonomous driving. The goal is to get to “level four”—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest level of self-driving vehicle, capable of getting from point A to point B without any human driver intervention. We’re not there yet—no one in the industry Ars has spoken to recently thinks the tech challenges are quite solved yet—but research vehicles from companies like Google, Delphi, Audi, and Ford are testing out the hardware and software necessary to get us to that point. With that in mind, we spoke to Wayne Williams, who gave us a quick tour of one of Ford’s fully autonomous hybrid Fusions.

Ford has chosen the Fusion hybrid as its autonomous driving platform in part because as a hybrid, the vehicles have a beefed up electrical system and they’re completely drive-by-wire, which makes computer control of the steering, brakes, and throttle much simpler. From the outside, you can tell something is special about the autonomous car, thanks to the roof rack and its spinning Velodyne lidar sensors, which are the primary way the vehicles are aware of the world around them (there are also optical cameras, and the cars can use information from radar sensors, too).

It’s even more obvious that something special is going on inside the trunk, where there are lots of boxes and cables that take information from the sensors, fuse it together, and then decide what to do in order to get to the planned destination. (For a deeper look at what’s going on in the trunk, check out our report from August, when we visited Ford.)

For more of this article and an Ars Technica video with Ford, click here.