Ford tests self-driving cars in Arizona

At the end of a work day, the last thing one wants to worry about is navigating through rush hour traffic. Ford is trying to help drivers out by developing a self-driving Fusion. The car's being tested right here in the valley.

- At the end of a work day, the last thing one wants to worry about is navigating through rush hour traffic. Ford is trying to help drivers out by developing a self-driving Fusion. The car's being tested right here in the valley.

"I can remember 10-years-ago, the first time we drove an autonomous car, I'd have people stop me and ask if we were with the FBI or the CIA or something," said Jim McBride.

McBride doesn't work for the government; he is the technical expert behind Ford's self-driving Fusion. The car is being tested in Wittmann, Arizona where you'll see spinning cylinders called LIDAR. Or devices that send short bursts of laser light.

"We do that 3 million times a second, and from all of those echoes we reconstruct a complete 3D picture of the world around us at a really high resolution," said McBride.

You won't find a spare tire in the trunk. Instead you'll find the equivalent of five laptop computers that help navigate the car and stabilize the sensors.

The technology guides the driver along the safest route. But during road tests, Ford keeps two people in the front seats.

"We have a test engineer that will sit and monitor all the sending and algorithms and then we have a safety driver at the wheel, whose sole function is to watch the road for anything unusual that might pop up," said McBride.

The test cars will be on Arizona roadways, so don't be surprised to hear one whirring right past you.

The self-driving fusion is also being tested at Ford's headquarters in Michigan and in California. But you don't want to list your current car on Craigslist quite yet; the technology behind the car won't be fully developed for another 4 to 5 years.


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