With the mechatronics technology on the rise, a pronounced challenge by Ford was tested on their proving ground located in Arizona, USA. This thrilling experiment was carried out as part of their Smart Mobility program. Ford’s research and development team has certainly penetrated a new bench mark in the automotive industry by proving that their vehicles can now start cruising in the streets with no headlights or cameras, and using only LIDAR sensors. This enriched technology operates by measuring the distance around the vehicle’s perimeter and illuminating a target by means of a laser light.
This technology was previously trialed on vehicles but hasn’t met the required success criteria. The reason this was the case was due to the poor quality camera images it generated, although it still offers a superior image resolution in comparison to the radar. However, Ford did overcome this obstacle by installing a high resolution digital 3D road map along with the virtual driver software which resulted in a vehicle guided by a further developed LIDAR system to track complex roads in a very detailed manner. The sensors equipped in the LIDAR system are very sophisticated that it has the ability to scan the surroundings up to nearly 3 million times per second. This refined system operates infrared light with a 200 meters range to generate a richer digital three dimensional image of the vehicle’s exterior environment.
All of this decisive information is then paralleled to a digital high-resolution road map which contains extremely comprehensive data that was previously stored to define other essential details such as trees, buildings, signs, road markings and many more specifics. The autopilot software then relates all the LIDAR signals revealed from the vehicles surroundings to the instantaneous radar and map data to finally convert those to breaking and steering commands.
LIDAR technology has also significantly reduced in size and price which greatly contributes to ease launching this brilliant technology on a mass scale. Consequently many reputable companies and academic institutions are currently investing today in developing human machine interface designs.