Ford Fusion sees in the dark

Ford claims its autonomous vehicles will be able to navigate at night just as easily as daytime using LiDAR.

The car manufacturer tested the technology on one of its Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles at its Arizona Proving Ground. Although too dark for the human eye, the Fusion was able to follow a winding track completely using LiDAR, camera and radar – although its headlights were off and tests prove that just the LiDAR was sufficient for accurate navigation.

Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles Jim McBride said, ‘Thanks to LiDAR, the test cars aren’t reliant on the sun shining, nor cameras detecting painted white lines on the asphalt. In fact, LiDAR allows autonomous cars to drive just as well in the dark as they do in the light of day.’

Research scientist and engineer Wayne Williams added, ‘As I rode in the back seat, I was following the car’s progression in real time using computer monitoring. Sure enough, it stayed precisely on track along those winding roads.’

Working with high-resolution 3D maps, LiDAR uses pulses to locate the exact location of the car in real time.