Ford anti-bug system keeps autonomous sensors clean: Page 2 of 3

September 09, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Ford anti-bug system keeps autonomous sensors clean
Automaker Ford (Detroit, MI) says it has developed a self-cleaning system to remove bug build-up on the sensors of its autonomous vehicles.
Krishnan. "It's like changing the course of an asteroid on a crash-course with Earth."

This method, say the researchers, proved "remarkably" successful. With bugs, for example, their tests showed that the air curtain successfully diverted the vast majority of them away from the self-driving sensors.

While this helped reduce the main problem, say the researchers, insects could still break past the air curtain in some situations, so they needed a way to successfully clean the sensors when necessary. So the researchers developed a cleaning system that features next-generation nozzles next to each camera lens that can spray washer fluid as needed to clean the sensors.

The system uses advanced software algorithms that helps the self-driving vehicles determine when a sensor is dirty, and then specifically target dirty camera lenses, efficiently cleaning each one individually without wasting washer fluid on already-clean sensors. After a sensor(s) has been sprayed down, the tiara releases air through a slot which quickly dries the face of the lens.

The researchers tested the effectiveness of the system by driving one of their test vehicles through the Huron-Manistee National Forests in western Michigan too see how the cleaning system reacted to swarms of bugs. The system has also been equipped on the third generation of their self-driving test vehicles, which are now hitting the streets in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade County and Washington, D.C.

"As fun as some of this development may sound," says Krishnan, "these are not features that would simply be nice to have when self-driving vehicles are ready to be deployed; they are critical functions that vehicles must be able to carry out on their own in order for safe deployment to be possible. Just as we must equip self-driving vehicles with the brains to process what’s happening in their environment, we must also equip them with the tools to deal with that environment — no matter what kind of gunk it decides to throw


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