Ford: three years of testing self-driving cars in Miami
Marking three years since automotive manufacturer - - began its plans to test and commercialise its , we take a look at what the company has been up to in the last three years to develop the technology.
Argo AI has been working to develop the self-driving technology with a natural experience, while Ford has been building the elements needed for such style of business including its Transportation-as-a-Service software (TaaS), its fleet operations, user experiences, the vehicles and business collaborations.
“In the past three years, Ford and Argo AI have also come to know our fellow Miamians really well. We’ve learned the roads, the driving habits and the incredible opportunities in store for the future of The Magic City,” commented .
Progress made so far…
- Taking pilots from “the page to the roads”
“Running pilot programs has been a priority for us — from testing food delivery with popular brands, to grocery delivery with both major retailers and even local nonprofits like The Education Fund,” said Ford.
Such projects provide Ford with invaluable real world insights to develop four of its core areas: customer experience, business models, operations and its TaaS software.
“Today, we’ve integrated our business pilot programs with Argo AI’s self-driving test vehicles to conduct delivery pilots in autonomous mode. We’re also building our software integration and fleet management capabilities with ride hail and delivery service pilots.”
- Establishing a real estate footprint
To manage a fleet of vehicles, Ford emphasises the importance of space. To support its commercial services after launch, as well as its current testing, Ford has established its real estate footprint for fueling, servicing, cleaning, sanitising, calibrating and optimising the vehicles.
“In early 2018, we established our first terminal in Wynwood [...] We recently established a second facility near Miami International Airport, a large facility we refer to as our Command Center. This space will be the epicenter of our local self-driving business operations housing both our business office and daily fleet operations. That’s not all. This month, we also established a third facility, a terminal in South Beach,” added Ford.
- Expanding vehicle testing
Being one of the most challenging cities to test Argo AI’s self-driving system (SDS), the organisations are exposing the SDS to the unique and challenging situations in Miami. In doing so, Ford expects this to enable the ability to scale to future cities safely and quickly.
“I started with the company as an overnight security guard in the summer of 2018. Now, I’m the Service Technician Coordinator for Ford’s self-driving vehicle fleet operations. When the Terminal first opened in Wynwood, we were operating only a few self-driving test vehicles. Now look at us in 2021, operating a large self-driving test fleet. My journey here has been amazing. To watch the fleet operations grow to the standards where we are now… it’s just awesome!” commented Sherman Bradwell, Service Technician Coordinator, Ford Autonomous Vehicle Terminals.
The future for Ford's self-driving vehicles
In the coming months Ford has established plans to integrate its into its Miami fleet. In addition the two organisations plan to expand their 70 Ford and Argo AI employees in Miami to support testing, operations and business offices, growing its local team over the next few years. Finally Ford strives to continue its collaborative and inclusive approach, working closely with Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, the City of Miami Beach, the State of Florida and the community at large.
Hexagon Revolutionises Manufacturing Design Process
A global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, Hexagon recently announced that complex CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations can now be completed with the help of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. Before this breakthrough, CFD simulations were far too expensive and time-consuming to run. Now, however, engineers can use these high-detail simulations to explore new ideas, iterate their designs, and optimise next-gen aircraft and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Thanks to Hexagon, manufacturers can now analyse what they’re up against before starting their build process—with one-third the energy use of traditional simulations and a fraction of the cost. This is only the latest step in Hexagon’s mission to use design and engineering data to speed up smart manufacturing. As the company wrote: ‘The idea of putting data to work is part of Hexagon’s DNA’.
What Are CFD Simulations?
Simply put, they’re simulations so complex and powerful that engineers usually have to spend hours upon hours simplifying their designs. 90% of an engineer’s time can centre around this task—but not with Fugaku-powered simulations. Now, original designs can be fed into the simulation software, reaching a much closer approximation of reality.
With the ARM-powered Fugaku supercomputer, Hexagon’s Cradle CFD clients can now reduce simulation cost, conserve valuable energy, and integrate high-detail simulations into their daily operations. At a time when the automotive and aerospace industries are racing to bring safe and sustainable transport options to market, in fact, CFD simulations could be the key to success.
How Does CFD Change the Game?
As auto manufacturers transition to electric vehicles, they must understand how design adjustments will affect the vehicle in real-time. Instead of physically iterating their blueprints, they’d rather work it out in theory. With CFD, engineers can now pre-test critical safety, performance, and longevity features—for example, how aerodynamics will interact with energy efficiency, or how thermal management will operate under a range of parameters. Essentially, CFD simulations speed up the design process and cut down on costly mistakes.
Said Roger Assaker, President of Design & Engineering in Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division: ‘Simulation holds the key to innovations in aerospace and eMobility. Advances such as the low-power Fugaku supercomputing architecture are one of the ways we can tap into these insights without costing the Earth, and I am delighted by what our Cradle CFD team and our partners have achieved’.
How Did Testing Unfold?
- Prototyped a typical family car. This is only possible with enhanced computing power. The car model consisted of 70 million elements using 960 cores and was simulated until it reached a steady-state using the RANS equation over 1000 cycles.
- Simulated transonic compressible fluid around an aeroplane. Made up of approximately 230 million elements, the simulation used 4,000 nodes using 192,000 computing cores and relied on 48,000 processes via Message Passing Interface (MPI).
Tomohiro Irie, Hexagon’s Director of R&D for Cradle CFD, commented on the recent progress: ‘I expect that these technical developments will contribute to making the power of Fugaku more accessible for general use, bringing huge freedom and improved insights to engineering teams solving tomorrow’s problems today’.
Overall, Hexagon intends to continue driving product innovation forward, with smart manufacturing that adapts to conditions in real-time, pursues perfect quality, and optimises designs for zero waste. And there’s little doubt about it. With 20,000 employees in 50 countries, coupled with Fugaku’s supercomputing capabilities, Hexagon is uniquely poised to succeed.