Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has teamed up with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology so that it can work on a joint project involving mobility in urban areas.
The aim of the project is to research on pedestrian movement in urban areas so that it can enhance public transportation services such as point to point shuttle services or ride-hailing services. Ford and MIT researchers will include a fleet of electric cars that will be accessible on demand. The electric vehicles in the project will be used on campus walkways in the university as well as city roads.
The vehicles will feature cameras and LiDAR sensors to determine pedestrian movement and the information collected will be used to determine the level of demand for the shuttles. This will, in turn, determine the number of vehicles that will be deployed. Kent Washington, Ford’s VP of Research and Advanced Engineering stated that the information collected in the project will allow the researchers to develop algorithms that efficiently compile data. Washington also stated that the project will also help to map efforts in research for self-driving vehicles in addition to detecting pedestrians and enhancing mobility-on-demand services.
The MIT researchers in the project are from the Aerospace Controls Lab, specifically from the Astronautics and Aeronautics departments. Some of the major research areas that Aerospace Controls Labs (ACL) deals with include control designs for ground vehicles, space crafts and aircrafts. It also develops autonomous systems.
Professor Jonathan How, the director at ACL stated that the lab can carry out research on the prediction and planning algorithm in a complicated yet simplistic environment thanks to the mobility-on-demand system. The MIT campus is currently developing the system together with researchers from Ford. They plan on introducing ride-hailing services to the faculty and a group of students in September as part of the research phase. the research group can hail one out of three available electric cars to their locations and use it to travel to a different location within the campus.