Car autonomous driving is through complete darkness

Cologne, 12 April 2016

Who often jogs after sunset, know that it is never completely dark in a big city. In the country is different, and in the desert, little might be at new moon to detect. Under such conditions to drive a car without headlights, no one would dare think seriously. Ford has now tried it with a research vehicle. However, it was not controlled by a human driver.

Night driving through the Arizona desert

The autonomous driving Ford Fusion hybrid was at night without headlights on a lonely desert highway in Arizona prove. The drives should show that autonomous driving even without normal cameras is possible. The merger had instead LiDAR sensors (light detection and ranging) on board. Thereby, an infra red laser scans the environment up to 2.8 million times per second. LiDAR uses the reflections from a distance of up to 200 meters and creates a virtual 3D map. Thanks to LiDAR was the test vehicle daylight nor to cameras and road markings. So, the autonomously driving merger was also curvy passages in total darkness.

Detailed 3D maps as a prerequisite

However highly detailed 3D-Navigationskarten that contain not only the street and the road markings, but also the terrain topography and even traffic signs, buildings, and trees were required for the trips. The vehicle matches the collected LiDAR data in real time with this card and the data of the on-board radar. The Ford engineers monitored the practice test with night vision goggles. "In the Interior of the vehicle, I could feel that the car is moving, but when I looked out the window, because only darkness was", engineer tells Wayne Williams, who watched from the back seat of the car while driving.

Series-Fusion is already part of autonomous

While autonomous driving at night is still pie in the sky, you can experience the partially autonomous driving in series cars among other things in the new Mercedes E-class. But Ford also offers part of autonomous driving, starting this spring in the new version of the fusion. The system consists of an Abstandstempomaten with stop-and-go function, takes over but also the steering. It is intended primarily for traffic jams. Like the E class, but must press a button or press the gas pedal, if the car will restart after a halt of more than three seconds for a longer stay so a pedestrian before the car could be run. Unlike the now-proven LiDAR system the series car next to a radar uses a camera what can not function without light. In the Mondeo, as the Ford Fusion in Europe, the system is not offered yet. There's stop, which is active only up to 40 km/h and with a laser sensor monitors the distance to the car vehicle in front only active city in addition to Abstandstempomat and lane. (sl)

by Irish McGurn

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