Ford Motor Co. will team up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to broaden its research into driverless vehicles, the Dearborn automaker said Wednesday.
The two institutions will split research, with MIT focusing on how to plan for scenarios when pedestrians or other cars can potentially obstruct a vehicle. Put another way, MIT will research scenarios that right now are better handled by the human brain, such as pulling to the side of the road upon hearing an ambulance siren.
Stanford will explore how a vehicle can use sensors to see around objects, so that in the instance of a highway lane closure, the vehicle can see around other vehicles and determine the correct lane to take.
Ford COO Mark Fields, who spoke about the collaborations Wednesday at the Washington Auto Show, said that building infrastructure to accommodate automated driving needs partnerships.
"We need to work across industries with many partners in business, academia and government to realize its promise, he said.
Ford is already working with the University of Michigan, which is focusing on the development of sensor-based technologies that will help future vehicles understand buildings, roads and other structures around them.
U-M researchers are processing trillions of bytes of data collected by a Ford Fusion automated research vehicle equipped with light sensors. The goal is to take that data and build a 3D model of the environment around the vehicle.
Automakers are racing to develop driverless or autonomous vehicles by 2020 or later.