Patent filings show an autonomous drone that can find optimized routes in remote locations.
Based on patents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Ford has developed the technology to deploy an autonomous drone to aid in the crossing of rough off-road terrain. Working in tandem with the vehicle's navigation sensors, the drone can use real-time mapping and combine it with pre-existing data to map out the best route into the unknown.
While city-dwellers may struggle to see the point of this innovative idea, Ford notes the drone will be put to good use in isolated areas with tough terrain. Uncovered by Motor1, the company goes on to say, in areas such as this, that delivery tasks aren't as simple when the destination is situated in a rugged landscape. While not as outrageous as some of the latest patents we've covered, it's certainly very interesting.
The filing brings up information from the World Bank organization. Reportedly, a staggering 31% of rural populations don't live near an all-season road. The drone-based system could make it easier to access these remote areas, particularly in an emergency. Alternatively, in the event of a landslide, this tech could help find a safe path for rescue personnel.
Interestingly, the technology can also be deployed by fleets. Scanning the terrain, the drone can assist in determining which vehicle is best suited to traverse a specific surface or area. This is beneficial for several reasons. Often, barren and deserted areas have poor satellite and GPS coverage. The drone will be able to step in and provide assistance in these instances.
This isn't the first time Ford has toyed with drone-based tech. In 2016, the Blue Oval was working on creating drones that could communicate with vehicles.
Innovative and useful it may be, we can't see the drone system being particularly popular with your average off-roading enthusiast. However, for niche and specialized needs, it could prove invaluable. In situations where important items (such as medicine or water) need to be transported to an isolated location, it has the ability to, quite possibly, save lives.
Then again, carmakers file numerous patents for technology that never comes to fruition. As for this ingenious invention? We do hope Ford's idea sees the light of day, as the potential it holds in terms of convenience and safety is immeasurable - just don't expect to see it fitted to the Ford Ranger at your local dealership… for now, at least.