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Ford’s Self-Driving Cars Test With Redundant Controls

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For a recent piece on self-driving car technology and the engineering difficulties therein, Fortune referred to the comments of Colm Boran, Ford Motor Company’s Autonomous Vehicle Platform Manager.

Mr. Boran’s comments on self-driving technology bring up an intriguing point about the need for redundant controls for safety and reliability. In most cars on the road today, the steering wheel and brake pedal are directly, mechanically linked to the gear that turns and stops the car, respectively. As such, in the event of any sort of engine or electrical failure, the driver can still steer and stop the vehicle – albeit without any power assistance.

However, introduce self-driving technology into the mix, where steering and braking by electrical signal would be the norm, and suddenly any loss of power could render the user helpless to prevent a crash. As such, Ford is putting redundant controls in its autonomous test vehicles, says Mr. Boran. This way, the user “would still have the capability to operate the brakes and steering” should the self-driving car experience an electrical failure, he says.

Check out Fortune.com for the full scoop.

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Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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