US car manufacturer Ford files patent for driverless cars that can go offroad
Ford is known for filing many patents that are not directly related to vehicle manufacturing. One example is the retractable table for the interior of autonomous vehicles. The latest patent provides an autonomous vehicle that shall be capable of navigating through rough terrain. Integrated image evaluation for approaching terrain is the key. The vehicle analyzes and evaluates images by means of an onboard sensor. Latter will be able to estimate if the area ahead is passable.
Ford’s VP of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby stated the autonomous offroad vehicle – and the driverless vehicle in general – is all about computing capacity. The data needed to interpret the car’s surrounding could also be uploaded to the cloud and transferred to a central computer. But Ford aims at an onboard solution because a permanent and stable internet connection cannot be guaranteed on rough terrain. Moreover the vehicle shall be able to adjust its suspension according to the current terrain.
Jaguar Land Rover goes autonomous
Last year Jaguar Land Rover also introduced an autonomous offroader with improved sensors attached to the car’s from in order to capture the road surface. Sensor reach was limited to 5 meters which determined how fast the vehicle could go at most. For an even more precise evaluation Jaguar Land Rover used cameras to scan the road ahead for potholes. Despite their efforts the prototype of JLR couldn’t prove marketability so far. So it is at least doubtful if this will be the case for Ford’s approach. Developing an autonomous offroad vehicle is even more challenging than creating one for asphalted road. If there will be an autonomous offroad vehicles soon it will probably be reletively slow in comparison with current models.
About the author:
David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de