Ford has stated that successful tests of its driverless cars have taken place in snowy conditions.
The motoring giant revealed that it has been running winter weather tests with its driverless vehicles for around two years, and that in recent tests its vehicles have been successful in manoeuvring through snow.
Snowy conditions have previously posed a challenge to driverless vehicles in general, which generally rely on a system of sensors, light detection, and ranging equipment to operate. These sensors operate by detecting road markings through light reflection, and are effectively the “eyes” of the vehicle – something that makes driving in snow difficult, as road markings can often be obscured.
However, Ford says that in recent tests it’s autonomous vehicles have been programmed to detect objects above the ground, such as road signs and buildings. This data is then compared to existing maps of the terrain and surrounding area contained within the vehicle’s on-board computer, allowing the vehicle to navigate effectively even when visibility is poor.
Greg Stevens, who leads the research into driver assistance at Ford, commented that when driving “we're used to the conditions changing very rapidly. As humans, we understand that can happen and we know how to deal with it. We need to make sure that our autonomous vehicles can also deal with those situations in the same way.”