ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In controlled "geofenced" areas, today's technology already enables cars to drive themselves automatically, safely and very smoothly. The challenge remains moving from tests on closed courses to the real world.
At the University of Michigan's Mcity proving grounds for autonomous cars, Ford engineers on Wednesday rolled out a fleet of self-driving Fusions and let reporters ride in the backseat. The cars successfully piloted themselves around the faux city landscape, top speed around 25 mph. The cars correctly read stop lights, negotiated turns, identified pedestrians -- real ones, not dummies -- and cyclists in the road, and interacted without drama. More than that, the cars drove themselves smoothly.
But there is still a long road ahead before Ford's, or anyone else's self-driving cars, are ready to pilot themselves on public streets. For one thing, high-definition mapping of the nation's roads, which can overcome some of the country's infrastructure issues, is not nearly complete enough.