November 30, 2016 - By Ruchi Gupta
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is set to start trials of its autonomous cars in Europe next year. The Detroit car maker already has an established presence in the testing of autonomous cars in the United States and is now seeking to extend that across the Atlantic. Ford autonomous in Europe will, however, encounter challenges that are different from those in the US as the various European countries have distinct traffic rules, regulations, and road layouts.
The testing of self-driving cars will begin at Ford’s Engineering Center which is located in Essex in the United Kingdom. At Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering facilities in Germany, trials will also begin concurrently. Other sites are set to be announced in the future. In a statement, Ford highlighted the importance of testing on the European continent.
“Rules of the road vary from country to country here, traffic signs and road layouts are different, and drivers are likely to share congested roads with cyclists,” said the Automated Driving manager for Ford autonomous in Europe, Thomas Lukaszewicz.
Ford had earlier in the year communicated its vision for a driverless future. That vision included developing a fully autonomous car that would have neither a steering wheel nor pedals for public transportation use in cities. Testing for such cars has already started in various cities in the United States. In 2016 alone, Ford has increased the fleet of its autonomous test vehicles by three times at various sites in Arizona, Michigan, and California. The car manufacturing giant plans to triple that next year.
Ford is on record as claiming that its autonomous test fleet is the most advanced among all car makers. The auto giant has already scored some firsts on that front. Already, it is the first car maker to test self-driving cars at night and in the snow. Some of Ford’s most extensive testing of autonomous cars has been carried out at the University of Michigan’s Mcity. Being able to navigate Ford autonomous in Europe across the varied and diverse regulatory environments would also be another first.
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By Ruchi Gupta