Self-Driving

Ford expands self-driving vehicle operations to Austin

Austin has become the third city that Ford will test its self-driving vehicles in.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Austin was the first city in the U.S. to allow fa self-driving test vehicle on public streets. Ford is beginning its self-driving vehicle testing in the city, making it the third municipality Ford is testing in, alongside Miami-Dade County and Washington D.C.

"At Ford, we think self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of our cities. As we continue to move towards the commercial launch of our self-driving vehicle services, we are expanding our testing operations in Austin in collaboration with Argo AI," said Sherif Marakby, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. "This includes working closely with city and state officials and community partners to help ensure we are properly integrating our plans into the wider transportation system."

Time is ticking. Ford has committed to having a fully autonomous vehicle in operation by 2021.

Ford Autonomous Testing Ford is using Austin as a proving ground for new autonomous driving technology.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

What does that mean? Ford says that their autonomous mobility solution will be classified as a SAE Level 4 capable-vehicle, or, "one of High Automation that can complete all aspects of driving without a human driver to intervene."

To help complete that goal, Ford has partnered with Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, and Civil Maps to expand its research into advanced algorithms, 3-D mapping, radar technology, and camera sensors.

Ford will not be running the vehicles on a set course in Austin. The vehicle will test in full-autonomous mode with two safety drivers in the front seats on city streets as they operate on a daily basis. That means the ever-present obstacles of jaywalkers, parallel parking, and construction.

Ford Autonomous Testing Ford is using its Fusion sedan to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"This commitment is part of what makes Austin such a great place to launch a self-driving vehicle business, but it's just the start," Marakby wrote in a Medium.com post. "We believe that if you want to successfully launch a self-driving service that improves people's lives, you can't just drop into a city and start rolling cars out onto the streets. You need to develop a comprehensive understanding of what people and local businesses would find useful — and that's exactly what we'll be doing over the next few years."

In each of the last eight years, Austin has been the fastest growing metro region in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As such, it is facing transportation challenges at a rapid rate.

"With our region's population on track to double in the next 20 to 25 years, it's clear we need to re-think how our right-of-way is used if we want people to be able to move around our city," said Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization predicts vehicle use in the Austin region could double by 2040, while highway capacity will only grow 15 percent. Its 2045 Plan features a multimodal approach to addressing Austin's transportation needs over the next 25 years. Part of that strategy includes traditional options like walking and biking, but also could include new technologies, such as ride-hailing apps and autonomous vehicle integration.

Trending News

 
 

The 2023 Sequoia is all-new and a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Toyota

The Toyota Tundra and Sequoia were two of the oldest vehicles on the market, but that's all different now. The new Tundra is already on the streets, and today Toyota released a load of specs and details on the all-new 2023 Sequoia. The full-size SUV gets a major update for the new model year with completely fresh styling, impressive new tech, and a powerful standard engine. We don't have pricing details yet, but Toyota says the 2023 Sequoia will be available starting in summer 2022.

2023 Toyota Sequoia In addition to new styling, the SUV gets a twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain and a load of updated tech.Toyota

Five trims of the Texas-built SUV will be offered: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone. All 2023 Sequoia models get the impressive twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-Force Max engine from the all-new Tundra. It makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, and sends it to the rear or all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain delivers a max towing rating of up to 9,000 pounds, which is a solid number and a massive increase over the previous Sequoia.

Toyota offers automatic-leveling air suspension and adaptive suspension settings with modes for Comfort, Sport S+, and Custom. The Sport drive modes also improve throttle response and changes transmission shift points. The electric motor handles most propulsion duties below 18 mph, but after that the gas engine steps in. The motor is constantly involved when the truck is in Tow/Haul mode.

2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro models get under-body cladding and beefier tires.Toyota

Similar to the high-end treatment given to the Tundra, Toyota will offer a Capstone trim for the new Sequoia that brings unique upholstery and trim materials, 22-inch chrome wheels, power side steps, American Walnut inlays, and more. That said, even the standard Sequoia SR5 offers plenty of standard gear. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, along with heated seats and more. An available Premium Package adds an enormous 14-inch infotainment display, power third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate, and additional power outlets.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 will also be standard for the SUV. The system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rear seat reminders. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts is also standard.

2023 Toyota Sequoia The new Capstone trim is a super-plush trim with an interior rivaling those in many luxury brands.

Trending News

 
 

Ford just announced specs for the new hardcore off-roader.

Ford

After years of speculation over the Bronco's return, Ford finally pushed the revived SUV to market last year. The rumor mill immediately kicked back into action with speculation of a higher-powered Raptor version of the Bronco to match Ford's F-150 Raptor here in the U.S. We've seen teases and a short film on the SUV, but today, The Blue Oval announced specs for what will surely be a highly desirable new vehicle in 2022 and beyond.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor The Bronco Raptor gets upgraded cooling and engine tuning to handle high-temperature operation.Ford

The Bronco Raptor gets an exclusive twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 that makes 400 horsepower, which is a big improvement over the standard SUV's V6 that makes an already healthy 330 horsepower. Four-wheel drive and a ten-speed automatic gearbox are standard. Ford says the Raptor also comes with a new towing mode that allows a max tow rating of 4,500 pounds - a 1,000-pound improvement over the base Bronco. Trail Control, trail Turn Assist, and Trail One-Pedal driving are also present here.

The Raptor gets seven of the standard Bronco's G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) driving modes, including a new Baja Mode that works with the engine's turbo system to reduce lag and improve performance during high-speed runs in desert temperatures. An active exhaust allows four selectable sound modes, including normal, sport, quiet, and Baja, and the Raptor's intercooler helps keep operating temperatures at reasonable levels when running in hot weather.

Using the Bronco's modular design, Ford gave the Raptor unique front and rear quarter panels, fender flares, and door appliqués. The new body components add 9.8 inches to the Raptor's width, and removable running boards help improve rock crawling abilities. Model-exclusive amber LED running lights accent the Raptor's front end, and Raptor logos set the hardcore model apart from its "lesser" counterpart.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Amber LEDs and special badging designate the much-upgraded Raptor model.Ford

Inside, the Bronco Raptor gets a 12-inch digital gauge cluster with configurable view for vehicle performance and other information. Black marine-grade vinyl seats and rubberized flooring are standard. Orange accents on the dash vents, door netting, and steering wheel help break up the all-black interior, and Ford offers a synthetic suede upholstery upgrade for buyers wanting a little more comfort with their capable off-roader. A 12-inch infotainment touchscreen and 360-degree camera system are also standard.

Bronco Raptor hopefuls can start placing orders in March, but be aware that there will be a wait involved for everyone. Ford says that the majority of 2022 Bronco Raptors will go to existing reservation holders based on their reservation timestamp. It's worth noting that many 2021 Bronco buyers are still waiting for the SUVs, which are being converted into 2022 orders, so the wait time for the Raptor could be severe for anyone without a standing reservation.

Trending News