I sat in the seat suit of Ford’s fake self-driving car

Last month we covered a “driverless” car roaming Virginia streets that turned out to really just be a normal car with the driver hidden inside a seat suit. Today, I got a chance to try the seat suit out for myself. You can’t see my face, but this is a picture of me giving the thumbs-up sign from inside the suit.

The research was led by Andy Schaudt, a researcher at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in partnership with Ford. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me take a test drive. Schaudt told me that they put their drivers through hours of training before letting them loose on public roads, and there wasn’t time to give me the necessary training.

Still, just from sitting in the seat, I could tell that driving the vehicle would be awkward. The suit is designed for the driver’s arms to rest on his or her lap, gripping the steering wheel from below. Lifting my arms would cause the flimsy front of the suit to fold, ruining the illusion. So drivers were trained to turn the wheel gingerly while keeping their arms near the bottom. The study also added an extension to the turn signal so drivers could reach it without raising their arms.

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Ford disguised a man as a car seat to research self-driving

 Yes, you read that correctly: Ford put a man in a car seat disguise so that a Ford Transit could masquerade as a true self-driving vehicle. Why? To evaluate how passers-by, other drivers on the road and cyclists reacted to sharing the road with an autonomous vehicle.
The trial, conducted with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, also made use of a light bar mounted on the top of the… Read More

MIT’s new Ford-funded robot can deftly navigate pedestrian traffic

 Robots have a lot of challenges remaining before they become commonplace in our lives, and many of those are likely not even something you’d think about when trying to make a list. ONe good example is simply walking around among people, and keeping pace with pedestrians on streets and sidewalks. MIT engineers have created a new autonomous robot that can do exactly that, however, in a… Read More

What Ford’s pizza delivery experiment says about its autonomy strategy

Ford has teamed up with Domino’s Pizza to test automated delivery of pizzas, the Detroit News reports.

Customers who participate in the test will get a text message telling them that their pizza is ready. From there, they’ll come out to the curb and punch the last four digits of their phone number into a touchscreen mounted by the rear passenger door. “The window rolls down and the customer grabs their order from a warming oven just inside the window,” according to the Detroit News.

But don’t get too excited. This isn’t a fully self-driving car, although it will have a full complement of self-driving sensors, including a lidar on the roof. There will be a driver hidden behind tinted windows in the driver’s seat.

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Ford and Domino’s to deliver pizza using self-driving cars in new test

 Ford and Domino’s are teaming up on a research trial that will see Ford cars equipped with self-driving tech delivering pizzas to regular consumers, as a way of figuring out how everyday people will react to, and interact with, autonomous service vehicles in the future. Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Cars will be used in the test, outfitted with pizza containers created by… Read More

Trump Strategic and Policy Forum, which included IBM and GM CEOs, disbands

 Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group made up of business leaders from various industries, has reportedly disbanded. CNBC says the group has agreed to terminate as a whole, which is distinct from what’s occurring with Trump’s manufacturing council, where leaders are leaving one-by-one, including 3M and Campbell’s Soup CEOs who left earlier today. The… Read More

Ford’s Chariot shuttles are expanding to New York City

 Ford is adding its largest market yet for Chariot, the crowd-sourced shuttle service that it acquired last September. Chariot began operations in San Francisco, where the former startup ran commuter routes of its branded transit vans, and expanded to Austin after that. In August, it’ll begin service in New York City, with two debut routes running from the Lower East Side to Midtown in… Read More

Ford’s 2018 Mustang GT can do 0-to-60 mph in under 4 seconds

 Ford’s latest Mustang GT is the fastest ever – in its new Drag Strip mode, it can do 0-to-60 mph in under four seconds, which is faster than a lot of expensive sports cars, including the Porsche 911. The Drag Strip mode setting optimizes torque, and transmission to achieve the new acceleration, and hits that sub-four second time when paired with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires on… Read More