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Unveiling Autonomous Vehicles a Step-by-Step Process

While at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, Ford CEO Mark Fields described his plan of slowly unveiling self-driving features such as lane correction software and self-parking features before releasing a fully autonomous vehicle.

by Danae King, The Lima News, Ohio / January 15, 2016
President and CEO Mark Fields (right) & Bill Ford Jr. (left) North American International Auto Show

(TNS) -- Some people can imagine sitting in their car alone — not driving, but reading, taking a nap or doing work.

Automakers can imagine this, too, and some can even make it happen.

Ford Motor Co., which has an engine plant in Lima, announced during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this week that it has tested an autonomous vehicle it made in the snow.

Ford has been testing a fully autonomous vehicle for more than a decade, in Arizona, California and Michigan, said Raj Nair, executive vice president of product development and chief technical officer at Ford.

“We have a dual strategy in autonomous vehicles. First we have lots of semi-autonomous features … features that will keep you in your lane, that will slow your vehicle down, that will help you park,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford. “But were also very aggressively researching into level four, which level four is essentially, in a predefined area, the driver does not have to be prepared to take control.”

Ford isn’t the only company that is developing this technology, Honda is also involved in the “race” to release an autonomous vehicle.

The automaker’s vehicles have several features that make driving easier, including adaptive cruise control — which will slow down and speed up depending on whether or not there is a vehicle in front of the car — and lane-keeping assistance, though the vehicles are not quite autonomous, Chris Martin, a Honda spokesperson, said.

The driver still needs to engage, it just offers driver assistance, Martin said. The company is pursuing the technology partly because of safety, he said.

“They go beyond safety, reduce driver fatigue and improve the driver experience,” Martin said. And after driving one of the vehicles with all the features, the driver isn’t as tired, he said.

At Chevrolet, company employees have figured out the hardware for a fully autonomous vehicle and how to control the vehicle electronically with a computer. They just have to develop the software and sensors, said Darin Gesse, product marketing manager at Chevy.

Bernard Swiecki, with the Center for Automotive Research, said automakers are getting to autonomous technology on a “step by step basis.”

©2016 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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