Ford has announced its intent on testing a fully autonomous vehicle in the second half of 2016. The company was issued a permit by California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test an autonomous Ford Fusion on Californian roads.
Despite previously testing self-driving cars in the states of Michigan and Arizona, Ford says that California's weather will allow it to expand tests. For instance, the manufacturer hopes to improve the car's capabilities in heavy rainfall and snow which currently throw up serious challenges for self-driving cars.
With Ford's permit for one autonomous vehicle, it will start planning routes to drive along, including city streets and highways. In the first half of 2016 Ford will spend time mapping the roads which the onboard systems in the Ford Fusion will use to plan routes. In the second half of the year the company will drive the cars along these routes and conduct tests.
Ford has a lot of catching up to do in the field of autonomous cars. Google has been driving on Californian roads for a while already, and is permitted to have 53 test vehicles which it has used to map 1.3 million miles in Mountain View, California. Other software companies including Uber and Baidu have also made significant progress in testing autonomous vehicles.