Ford is Testing Autonomous Cars in the Snow
Snow is one of the most challenging driving conditions we face and it's equally as difficult for autonomous cars. The array of sensors used to navigate are stymied by the snow, but Ford has found away around this problem. Radar and LIDAR are used to see things like pedestrians and obstacles, but the cameras used to see street signs and lane makers are confused by the snow. The car can't navigate when it can't see. Humans run into the same trouble and use things like curbs or other cars to help estimate the edge of the road. Ford is teaching its cars to do the same thing. RELATED: Google's Autonomous Cars are Programmed to Speed
Ford is making high-fidelity 3D maps of roads, which include the exact locations of curbs, signs, and lane lines along with speed limits and other road information. These maps are the key to helping autonomous cars see where they're going in the snow.
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Using things it can see, like a stop sign, the car's LIDAR scanner will tell it how far it is from the sign, which makes it easy to figure out how far it is from the side of the road. According to Wired, Ford tried this out in Mcity, a town built for testing autonomous cars, and the cars did fine. It's another piece in the autonomous puzzle falling into place.
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