Fields trumpets Ford/MIT/Stanford research on automated driving

Fields trumpets Ford/MIT/Stanford research on automated driving

Ford COO Mark Fields, speaking via Skype at The

Washington Auto Show Newsmaker Breakfast, Jan. 22, announced research projects with MIT and Stanford on automated driving. The MIT research focuses on predicting the movements of other vehicles and pedestrians. Stanford researchers are studying how sensor technology can see around obstructions.

The projects are part of Fords Blueprint for Mobility, which seeks to advance various aspects of driver technology such as alerts for traffic jams and accidents, vehicle-to- vehicle commands and the use of

connected cars to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and cut greenhouse gases.

Some technologies are already here. The Fusion, through its driver assist technology, can park itself and detect and avoid danger. Using Lidar sensors, the Fusion hybrid creates a 3-D map of the surrounding environment. Fords aim is to make automated driving features more affordable.

The driver should always be in control, said Fields. But automated driving technologies could save hundreds of dollars in fuel costs each year and could lower insurance rates.

Business, academia and government will need to work together to help create an infrastructure for automated driving, Fields said.

Automakers will need help from federal policymakers on tax and trade policies and regulations.

In his presentation, Fields trumpeted the comeback of the auto industry generally, and Ford in particular. Coming off 17 straight quarters of profitability, the company plans for 25 percent global sales growth in the years ahead.

Having spent more on research and development than Apple in 2012, Ford has its most ambitious plans in 20 years, Fields said. It will open two new plants in China and one in Brazil this year. Moreover, said Fields, the company will create 5,000 new U.S. jobs in 2014, adding to 14,000 jobs it created in the past two years.

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