Ford Autonomous Vehicles has appointed a safety advisor to oversee its self-driving vehicle development efforts, as the carmaker reiterates its commitment to road safety.
Chris Gerdes, co-director at the Center of Automotive Research at Stanford University, is joining Ford to help create safety processes for the development and deployment of the company’s self-driving vehicles.
In his role at Stanford, Gerdes has undertaken laboratory studies into how cars move, how humans drive and how to design future vehicles that can drive themselves. He also served as the US Department of Transportation’s first chief innovation officer, and was part of the team that drafted the country’s first federal automated vehicle guidelines.
Scott Griffith, CEO of Ford’s autonomous vehicles and mobility businesses, said in a blog post that vehicles driven by humans have been fine-tuned and enhanced over time to help improve driver behaviour. “The challenge for self-driving cars will be to manage all driving operations on their own — making decisions and performing maneuvers to navigate through numerous scenarios,” continued Griffith.
One area the carmaker hopes to improve it its ability to learn lessons from the very best human drivers and turn those lessons into algorithms that can be deployed on self-driving cars. “That way we can ensure that if there is an unexpectedly icy road or a pedestrian that suddenly steps out into traffic, the car can very reliably use all the friction on the road to help move out of harm’s way,” wrote Griffith.
As Ford’s safety advisor, Gerdes will work closely with the company’s Government Affairs, Automotive Safety and legal groups, as well as its Autonomous Vehicle System Engineering team, which is collaborating with Argo AI to create a safe and reliable self-driving system.
“Ensuring self-driving cars with no brake pedals or steering wheels cars are safe, trusted and reliable will be the defining challenge of the auto industry,” added Griffith.