Ford Outlines Hardware Challenges That Must be Overcome to Make Self-Driving Cars a Reality

11 Mar

By Mudit Mohilay, The Tech Portal

Like almost all of its peers and compatriots, Ford is also hard at work towards unlocking the door to almost certain business success — by pushing research in autonomous cars, which is widely being touted as the next big step for the automotive industry.

Well, the road can get quite bumpy and today, Ford’s Chief Program Engineer for Autonomous Vehicle Development Chris Brewer elaborated about some of the major hurdles facing the company in its road to autonomous vehicles.

Contrary to what some might think, building an autonomous car isn’t as easy as putting sensors and a computer into an existing car. The vehicle’s physical components must be developed and engineered to work with the software, as hardware and software working together is what’s required to deliver the self-driving experience. The end result needs to be a high-quality, energy-efficient vehicle people trust to serve their needs — just like they do today.

First off, what happens when the power steering system in a self-driving car fails? Imagine, you are sitting in a self-driving car with a no visible means of control and suddenly it starts swerving all over the place. It can happen you know. Which is why it is important to ensure that there is some kind of steering control system that relies on simple mechanical controls.

See with power steering, you can still muscle the car under your control in case of a failure. However, what happens when there is no steering at all and everything is being controlled by a computer software that does not need to turn a visible steering wheel to direct the vehicle. Keeping these kinds of situations in mind, it is important to ensure that there is a way to steer the vehicle even when the power steering goes kaput.

The next challenge is ensuring that the car is tough. We had already gotten to the point where tough wasn’t usually a problem when you are discussing cars. After all, how hard is it to shield something made entirely of metals, glass and rubber from the elements. With self driving cars though, you gotta protect those sensors and computing systems as well. And that is exactly what Ford is attempting to do at present.