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Ford Looks to Give Pickup Trucks Autonomous Capabilities for Off-Roading

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【Summary】While other automakers are looking to completely take drivers out of the equation on the road, Ford’s recent patent reveals its plan to develop a driverless off-roading system for its pickup trucks.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 19, 2017 9:00 AM PT
Ford Looks to Give Pickup Trucks Autonomous Capabilities for Off-Roading

The main focus for the future, at least for automakers and technology companies, is to figure out a way to get the driver out of the vehicle. The thinking behind the move to autonomous cars is to make getting to work safer, more convenient, and more efficient. People will be able to get to work quicker, as driverless cars are expected to talk to one another, and allow individuals to either catch up on work or relax without having to focus on the road. 

Ford, just like the majority of other automakers, is focusing on ways to become a large player in the connected car, electric vehicle, and autonomous scene, as it has partnered with various technology companies, including a recent partnership that involves Qualcomm, AT&T, and Nokia, and testing new chargers by giving its employees access to new chargers

Autonomous Capabilities For A Niche Group

Ford, though, is also working on a different type of autonomous system that should be of great interest to those that enjoy traversing rough terrain. According to a recent article by Off-Road.com, Ford was recently granted a patent for an autonomous system that would allow its pickup trucks to tackle different types of terrain without any assistance from a human driver. 

The proposed system, as the outlet reports, was outlined in a straightforward flow chart, revealing the capabilities of the system. According to the flow chart, the pickup truck's sensor would receive a signal when approaching an obstacle. The truck's system would then decide whether the vehicle can traverse the terrain. If the vehicle believes that it can't get through the obstacle, it alerts the driver to take an alternate route. So far, the system sounds like more of an assistant than a driverless system, but it gets better.

If the pickup truck's system believes the vehicle can traverse the obstacle, it then takes control of the car's Active Suspension System, ensuring that the vehicle is in the right off-roading mode to get through barrier. While that would be a huge help to drivers, the system can go even further. After putting the truck's suspension system in the proper setting, the truck can be told to traverse the obstacle with passengers onboard or without anyone in the vehicle. 

Controlling The Pickup Like A Remote Controlled Car

Off-Road.com also claims that the patent revealed a "remote device" for pickup trucks with the autonomous system that would allow owners to take control of the autonomous vehicle if they believe that the system is going to crash their vehicle. Nifty, huh?

The system, as the outlet reports, would see obstacles in various terrain thanks to a host of cameras, radar, LiDAR, map data, or a combination of the technologies. Other hardware and software on the pickup trucks would include: sensors, a processor, a user interface, massive amounts of memory, a communication interface, and an autonomous mode controller. 

While some off-roading enthusiasts will see the piece of technology as a downside, it could help a lot of drivers get into off-roading and get to experience how capable their pickup trucks are in a safe manner. Drivers new to off-roading could rely on the system, allowing it to pick the proper off-road setting and showing them the right way to tackle an obstacle, before taking control of the vehicle and going at it themselves. 

Ford's looking for ways for enthusiasts to enjoy autonomous technology, even if it's just for its pickup trucks at the moment, which is something we can get behind. 

via: Off-Road.com

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