It will now be easier than ever to go off-roading.
The amount of work being done on driverless vehicles suggests that autonomous car technology will be perfected sooner than anyone thinks. Not having to drive a car will be a huge convenience for many commuters, but companies like Land Rover have already begun to think about more fun ways that this technology can be used. Not only can Land Rover's system drive the car by itself on the road, but can also pilot the vehicle on off-road terrain. According to Off-Road.com, Ford is also working on a similar technology.
According to patent drawings, Ford's Dearborn research team is developing a system that will allow a truck to traverse a stretch of terrain by itself. It's debatable whether this technology can truly be called "autonomous," but it is still extremely cool. The system will function by using a computer processor that has access to instructions stored in its memory. These instructions allow the vehicle to analyze the terrain and determine if the situation is safe. It can then control the brakes, steering, traction control and active suspension to cross over the obstacle without the driver having to intervene. Ford released several patent drawings that explain how the system works, but they are fairly confusing.
The flow charts that Ford released include a section for human intervention, in case the system thinks it can no longer handle the situation. We think that most off-road enthusiasts would prefer to do the driving themselves, which is what makes going to off-road areas so much fun in the first place. This technology could be pretty helpful for first-timers or people who need to go off-road for a job rather than for leisure. If Ford does put this system into production, we'd expect it to debut on off-road-focused models like the F-150 Raptor or anticipated Ranger Raptor.