Ford Collaborates with Silicon Valley on Autonomous Vehicles and 3D Printing
Autonomous vehicle technology is another step closer to production at Ford, moving from a research effort to an advanced engineering program, the company has announced.
Ford has appointed a director of autonomous vehicle development – 29-year Ford veteran Randy Visintainer – and created a global team to work on the advanced program.
Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is working on the global Ford team to deliver the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which aims to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.
“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup to help make our roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s vice president of Global Product Development.
With the transition to advanced engineering, autonomous driving technology enters the second of three phases in the process of bringing a feature to market. As an advanced engineering program, the team says it is now working to make the required sensing and computing technology feasible for production and continuing testing and refinement of algorithms.
Since December 2014, Ford has also been working with Redwood City-based Carbon3D – which developed Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) – a 3D printing technology that grows parts from UV curable resins at speeds as much as 25 to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. The resulting parts are said to boast mechanical properties that are applicable for a range of needs for Ford vehicles including high-quality automotive-grade parts.
“Our ability to innovate depends on how quickly we can move from idea to production,” Nair said. “This technology enables us to quickly create automotive-grade parts for product design prototypes – and perhaps even production parts – faster than ever before, so we can deliver new vehicles to customers even sooner.”
Carbon3D technology uses engineering resins claimed to damp vibrations, support loads or withstand high temperatures.
Using the technology, Ford produced elastomer grommets for the Focus Electric and damping bumper parts for the Transit Connect.