Ford and Argo AI have introduced their third-generation of autonomous vehicles.
Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the car has been equipped with a “significantly upgraded sensor suite” that includes new cameras and radar sets. Argo AI says the cameras are higher resolution and feature a greater dynamic range. This enables them to better recognize objects that are far away.
Besides the sensor suite upgrades, the car has been equipped with a brand-new computing system that “offers far more processing power” than its predecessor. It runs upgraded software and features improved thermal management systems that create less heat and noise. This is important as no one wants to ride in a hot and noisy autonomous vehicle.
Ford and Argo AI are also working to make autonomous vehicles safer. As part of this effort, third-generation models have been equipped with redundant braking and steering systems. This allows them to safely pull over and stop, in the event of a malfunction.
Argo AI President, Peter Rander, says the third-generation vehicles are a “step closer to production specification.” While the company still has a way to go, the new models will be deployed in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Miami and Washington, D.C. The company will also expand its Michigan testing to include Detroit.
In a seemingly backhanded compliment, Rander said “Detroit roads don’t have a singular defining feature.” While that sounds bad, he’s referring to the fact that Detroit streets are a hodgepodge of everything as there’s unmarked lanes, narrow side streets with parked cars and residential neighborhoods with overhanging tree branches.
The tests will help to further refine the technology as Ford is preparing to introduce a purpose-built autonomous vehicle in 2021. It is slated to have a Level 4 semi-autonomous driving system which will enable the model to drive itself in “a specifically-defined area of a city and only when the weather is good enough for the sensors to work properly.”