As for the vehicle itself, it builds on the company’s Escape SUV, instead of the Fusion sedan Ford had used for its previous generation testbeds. New to the fourth-generation model is a high-resolution LiDAR sensor that helps give the vehicle a 360-degree view of its surroundings. It also includes a new suite of cameras and LiDAR sensors to aid with spotting vehicles and cyclists that enter into its blind spots.
Ford plans to start field testing the vehicle this month in Austin, Detroit, Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. The new model will join its fleet of approximately 100 existing test vehicles.
Ford’s announcement comes during what’s been a busy month for companies in the autonomous vehicle space. On October 15th, GM’s Cruise subsidiary said it would start testing fully driverless cars on the streets of San Francisco later this year. One week earlier, Waymo announced it was beginning to open its Waymo One service to the broader Phoenix population. Provided the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t force additional delays, Ford plans to launch its self-driving taxi service in 2022.