Ford Comes Up With An Ingenious System To Protect Its Self-Driving Sensors

Self-driving cars are the next step in the development of automotive technology.  They have the potential to replace cars as we know them. But even when it’s clear that autonomous cars are the direction in which we’re headed in terms of car development, there is a multitude of challenges that impede self-driving cars from becoming available on the consumer market.

The most jarring concern is that of reliability. Because self-driving cars rely solely on the information that their sensors are able to gather, any interruption or lack of information would mean that the self-driving car can no longer make adjustments that are vital to its smooth functioning. This does not only mean that the computer is unable to make a decision, but it also means that this period of indecision becomes a period of a lack of control. And like you, dear readers know, a lack of control, even momentarily, is a major accident risk. As explained in, car accidents could cause severe injuries and even death.

The Problem

When we speak of sensor interruptions, the last thing we would think of are bugs on the highway. You’ve probably experienced it. Driving on the highway, how bug guts end up on the windshield, the grill, the side mirrors. In some cases, it can get really thick. And if these bugs end up on your car sensors, it might prevent them from collecting data.

The Solution: A Two-Pronged Approach

Ford’s solution for the bug problem comes in two forms. The first is by blowing the bugs out of the way through strategically placed air vents. In a sense, this technology creates a wall of air that keeps bugs from ever hitting the sensors.

But, even with this air curtain, some of the heavier, bigger bugs are still bound to splatter on the sensors. It’s at this point that the second countermeasure kicks into motion. The audiovisual sensors come equipped with a computer that can detect if the cameras and sensors are obscured. When the sensors are obscured, the computer then uses a high-pressure aerosolized sprayer that can clean the sensors with only one-tenth of the fluid used by current sensors.

Further Improvements

Ford may later on partner up with a company that has developed a fluid heating component that makes windshield cleaner significantly more potent at removing dirt and debris. This is in contrast to Tesla’s self-driving cars that make use of traditional wipers to clear their sensors of debris and dirt.

While this may seem like a trivial thing to some of you, it needs to be pointed out that a car that is disabled by something as small as an insect isn’t going to be of much value to consumers. While your opinions on this could vary, the fact is that sophisticated technology will often be fragile. While that’s usually expected, what makes this a critical failure is the fact the there is a direct connection between the component and the overall functionality and safety of the car.

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