OK, so I’ve been able to drive a lot of places doing a lot of wacky things.
On streets, on track and off road. To me, there’s no question that the hardest driving I’ve ever done has been off road.
This is because there are an innumerable amount of variables that make things difficult to maintain a smooth ride. From slippery surfaces to constantly changing pitch and angles of attack, it’s unquestionably the hardest driving one is going to do.
Of course this is assuming you’re not trying to scratch or crash your vehicle.
While there’s a lot of attention on autonomous vehicles right now, it turns out that Ford’s engineers are not only focusing on vehicles that do the work for you on the tarmac. They’re also working on a system that will self drive off road as well.
Although I am sure someone will say it’s hardest to drive at the track, we’ve already seen automated systems use GPS, accelerometers and a whole lot of algorithms come together to direct a vehicle to lap a track. That happened YEARS ago.
So, as Bob Lutz has forecasted the END of the automotive industry as we currently know it, this gets me wondering: IF autonomous driving conquers off-road driving, is this the FINAL nail in the coffin for driving as we know it?
Realizing the phrase ‘autonomous’ itself is a challenge to define correctly, Ford has been granted a patent for technology which allows a truck to traverse a stretch of terrain all on its own. Whether this is truly ‘autonomous driving’ is up for debate, one which we will leave to the experts in that field.
Whatever one calls it, this application incorporates a computer processor with access to instructions stored in memory which will allow the vehicle to evaluate a certain environment and, if it deems the situation to be safe, traverse an obstacle while controlling an active suspension system.
In plain English, Ford’s system lets the truck do some of the heavy lifting while on the trail while the driver enjoys a snack. Okay, maybe the driver won’t be wolfing down a burger but this system does have the potential to take over driving duties during tough ‘wheeling maneuvers…