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Ford on the road to the driverless car

Ford is developing cars capable of driving themselves in order to avoid “global gridlock” as the number of cars on the road is predicted to quadruple in the next 40 years.

Most manufacturers are investing in automated driving systems, with several examples already operational.

Ford already has project vehicles on the road to see how such systems as lane keeping, cross traffic alert, active park assists, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and collision warning can all work together to keep traffic moving safely.

Randy Visintainer, director of research and innovations at Ford, said: “The challenge is to make the technology affordable.

"We don't to make these systems available only on high end models, they need to go right through our product range."

As well as radars, cameras and sensors, laser technology is also coming into play, said Greg Stevens, manager of Ford's global driver assistance and active safety programme. "This technology can create a 3D map of the car and its environment in real time. This way the vehicle will know what's around it all the time and alert the driver to any hazards.

"Wi-fi is another technology we are investigating which will allow cars to talk to each other. Current technologies need line of sight while wi fi will allow cars to 'see' each other even at blind intersections."

As for the car taking complete control that is still a long way off. Stevens added: "There is a whole lot of legislation that will have to be rolled out first and then there are other issues such as insurance. People will still need to drive themselves for quite some time."

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