When I was in Detroit late last year with Ford I was lucky enough to get a ride in their self-driving car evaluation and testing vehicle. But it did make me wonder – how on earth they would make this look good with all the sensors hanging off it. I think my answer is starting to come if CES was anything to go by.
Ford are committed to producing self-driving cars by 2021, those first cars will be used for ride-sharing services in selected cities and streets, but even then it seemed we had a long way to go to either hide or miniaturise the technology required.
Looking back at the Ford Fusion I rode in, the huge sensors on the roof just wouldn’t cut it in the real world – Uber or not, it’s still got to look like a car.
Walking through the Ford stand at CES in Las Vegas I think I got my answer.
The Ford Fusion self-driving car on display had a new evolution of sensor placements. Firstly roof mounted sensors and cameras were neatly tucked into what would look to anyone else like roof racks.
The only clear giveaway that it’s a self-driving car would be the extra little “wings” off the A-Pillar.
Normally just the rear-view mirrors would be on the front A-pillar, but for this car, Ford have created a well suited stand for the Velodyne sensors. And I think it works.
This is likely to be just one iteration before the final design which would most likely fit snug into the existing placement of side mirrors.
Time will tell – but its fun to watch it evolve.