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Ford Makes a Thinking Car for the Average Pocketbook

The 2015 Modeo, a modestly priced sedan, will be able to sense and avoid pedestrians

1 min read
Ford Makes a Thinking Car for the Average Pocketbook
Photo: The Ford Motor Company

Ford is doing what its founder, Henry Ford, lived to do: making a rich man's toy into a working man's tool.

Ford says it will offer a pedestrian-sensing system in its Mondeo sedan, beginning in Europe in the coming model year. It uses a camera on the windshield and a radar sensor near the bumper—a minimalist approach but one that works well, at least when the light and the weather are decent.

That’s a fabulous first step for a car with a starting price of a little over €27,000, or roughly US $35,000. 

Compare that to the cost-be-damned approach behind the Google Car, which has a rotating laser rangefinder that costs twice as much as a Mondeo. Or to the cost-be-darned Mercedes-Benz S Class, which is festooned with multiple radars and cameras and costs 2.6 times as much as a Mondeo.

In a press release, Ford said it took the system out on roads around the world.  “This real-world testing was an important part of the development, because pedestrians in an urban setting can present a wide range of potential situations,” said Scott Lindstrom, who heads up the companies driver-assist research. 

Ford’s collision-avoidance system doesn’t tell the driver what to do—at least not right away. It gives a warning, through a flashing light and a sound. If the driver doesn’t respond, then the car takes over, either avoiding a collision or mitigating the effects of one. All manufacturers are following the same course in order to keep the driver in the loop, as they say. It also keeps the liability squarely on the driver’s shoulders.

Here's Ford's demonstration of the technology

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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