Ford patents autonomous off-road vehicle tech

Ford has been granted a patent for autonomous off-roading technology that could save your life…by ejecting you from the vehicle. Politely.

The system, first reported on by Autoblog, combines input from various sensors monitoring a vehicle’s surroundings with topographical map data to determine the likelihood that it could roll over or lose traction while traversing difficult terrain or obstacles. If it decides things are too dangerous, it can instruct passengers to get out and then give it the old college try on its own, while the organics follow along on foot. A remote control override ensures the robo-vehicle won’t leave anyone in the lurch.

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 (Ford)

The feature is also envisioned to be integrated with computer-controlled springs, shocks and roll-bars to adjust the ride height of the vehicle and stiffness of the suspension, whether or not the cabin is full, or it is operating in a fully-autonomous or semi-autonomous mode.

The patent says the idea could be adapted to suit a variety of vehicles, from pickups to cars and even vans, but Ford hasn’t announced any specific plans to put it into production, although it is scheduled to put an autonomous car into taxi service by 2012.