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Ford Studies ­sing Drones to Guide Self-Driving Cars

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An autonomous aerial vehicle (drone).

Aerial drones launched from an autonomous vehicle could help guide it by mapping surrounding areas beyond what the car's sensors can detect, according to Ford company officials.


Ford Motor researchers are studying a system to use drones to help guide self-driving vehicles, including on off-road adventures.

The hypothetical system would involve autonomous vehicles relying on a drone to help guide it by mapping the surrounding area beyond what the car's sensors can detect. Passengers in the vehicle could control the drone using the car's infotainment and navigation system.

Earlier this year, Ford held a competition for programmers to see if they could teach a drone to fly from and return to a moving vehicle. The goal was to determine if a drone could use its cameras to direct a vehicle into and out of a disaster area where communications and roads have been destroyed or disrupted, says Ford spokesperson Alan Hall. He notes the plan is to create drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford Sync, the company's car-based wireless connection, as a means to inspect areas in an emergency. Only one of the 10 participants successfully launched a drone from a moving vehicle and got it to return after completing an assigned task.

Ford has partnered with researchers in the Silicon Valley Research Center to find a way for drones to help autonomous vehicles solve future navigation problems.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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