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Ford Announces Plans to Triple Autonomous Driving Investment

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Feb. 25, 2016—Ford CEO Mark Fields revealed on Monday that the automaker will triple its engineering investment in semi-autonomous vehicle technologies as the company continues to expand its Ford Smart Mobility plan.

“As we look to the future, it is clear we are on the cusp of a revolution in mobility—from car sharing to autonomous driving to the customer experience,” Fields said. “Technology and innovation provide us with the opportunity to address these trends and to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”

Ford will take two pathways toward vehicle automation. First, the company has a dedicated team developing driver assist technology that is focused on delivering increasing levels of automation.

Traffic Jam Assist will help the driver with steering, braking and acceleration in congested traffic situations on motorways. The system, which is activated by the push of a button, helps keep the vehicle in the centered lane and brakes and accelerates to keep pace with the vehicle in front.

Ford has already introduced semi-autonomous technologies, including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, a camera- and radar-based system that detects vehicles and people in the road ahead; and Intelligent Speed Limiter, which could help prevent drivers from exceeding speed limits and potentially from incurring speed penalties.

“The use of semi-autonomous functions such as Traffic Jam Assist and Fully Active Park Assist make driving easier and more enjoyable for our customers,” said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

Ford is also dedicating a fully autonomous vehicle programme in Aachen, Germany, in Palo Alto, Calif, and Dearborn,  Mich.

Ford is seeking to deliver autonomous capability that does not require driver input described by the SAE International as Level 4 of automation.

“We are committed to making autonomous vehicles available for millions of people,” Washington said. “Within well-defined areas and with favourable environmental conditions, we predict that fully autonomous driving will be possible within four years, and that autonomous vehicles will play a significant role in making travel safer, more enjoyable, and more accessible.”

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