Ford has tested a self-driving car that doesn’t need headlights and uses lasers to help keep itself on the road instead.

The test, carried out at Ford’s test centre in the Arizona desert, used LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid used was fitted with cameras and radar as well as the LiDAR system, but could only use the special system in the dark.

LiDAR shoots out 2.8 million laser pulses a second to scan the scenery in front of the car and help map the route, and when paired with Ford’s high-resolution 3D maps, which contain all the details of the upcoming road the Fusion Hybrid was able to be kept on the road to help make the test a complete success.

Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles, Jim Mcbride, said, “Thanks to LiDAR, the test cars aren’t reliant on the sun shining, nor cameras detecting painted white lines on the asphalt. In fact, LiDAR allows autonomous cars to drive just as well in the dark as they do in the daytime.”

Wayne Williams, one of Ford’s research scientists on the project, who was in the car during one of the tests said, “I could feel it moving, but when I looked out the window, I only saw darkness.

“As I rode in the back seat, I was following the car’s progression in real time using computer monitoring. Sure enough, it stayed precisely on track along the winding roads.”

The American manufacturer will be tripling its efforts in their autonomy sector, with the decade of research leading up to this point helping Ford become one of the front-runners in the self-driving car market.

Jack Evans


After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.

April 11, 2016