Ford unveils new hybrid fusion sedan in time for CES 2017

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【Summary】Just one week before the grand opening of CES 2017, Ford unveiled its next-generation fusion hybrid sedan with self-driving abilities. As a succession to its first-generation hybrid, the updated version features advanced sensors, robust computing power and enhanced autonomous support.

Original   Claire  ·  Jan 06, 2017 2:35 PM PT
author: Claire   

Just one week before the grand opening of CES 2017, Ford unveiled its next-generation fusion hybrid sedan with self-driving abilities. As a succession to its first-generation hybrid, the updated version features advanced sensors, robust computing power and enhanced autonomous support. 

The second-generation hybrid prototype has a brain in its trunk that's powered by cutting-edge computers and can process all the data that sensors collect from the road. Although the model currently uses just two sensors instead of four, the new LiDAR sensors can generate millions of beams, which are highly accurate, and provide 360-degree vision, enabling the vehicle to collect "just as much data." 

There are three cameras installed on the car's roof rack and one forward-facing camera under the windshield that can detect objects and traffic lights on the road. Additionally, short and long-range radar sensors can also be found to help see through rain, fog, heavy snow and determine how an object is moving towards the car. In all, the car can see "up to 2 football fields in distance in every direction."

In terms of battery for the hybrid, there's an independent power converter connected to the car's battery to supplement power. 

The new autonomous vehicle also features an updated autonomous platform and virtual driver system, which means a step closer to self-driving cars. Why say so? As pointed out by Chris Brewer, Ford's chief engineer of autonomous-vehicle development, the virtual driver system includes sensors, algorithms for localization and path planning, computer vision and machine learning, highly detailed 3D maps, as well as computational and electronics horsepower to make it all work. To combine all of these high-tech components into the car, the car's brain could generate one terabyte of data an hour. It could think for itself, make decisions and control the car, similar to that of a human brain. 

"It's been three years since we hit the streets with our first Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle, and this latest version takes everything we learned and builds on it," Brewer posted on Medium.

Ford is currently testing its autonomous vehicles in Arizona, California and Michigan. The auto giant aims to build a level-4 autonomous vehicle by 2021. Now it is working with over 40 tech startups to improve their driverless platform before the initial release. 

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