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Ford to triple size of its self-driving car fleet

Car manufacturer makes announcement ahead of this week's CES

Ford to triple size of its self-driving car fleet
Ford said it would add 20 Ford Fusion hybrid cars to its self-driving car fleet

Ford announced today that it is set to triple the size of its self-driving car fleet as it begins to ramp up tests on public roads in the US states of California, Michigan and Arizona.

The announcement was intended to coincide with the lead-up to this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins tomorrow. The carmaker said that it had been able to ramp up its autonomous car-testing programs thanks to a new, lower-cost sensor, developed by Velodyne, a US-based technology firm.

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That said, such sensors working on LiDAR, which helps machines measure distance, are still extremely expensive, and are proving to be a barrier for companies looking to experiment with self-driving cars. As a result, even Ford, one of the biggest car companies in the world, will only have a fleet of 30 autonomous cars being tested.

The company said that it would add 20 Ford Fusion hybrid cars to its self-driving car fleet, currently made up of 10 autonomous cars.

Rumours have flown over the past month that Ford's move to autonomous vehicles is being driven by a possible tie-up with Alphabet's Google, which is so far the leader in self-driving car technology. However, Google does not have a car-manufacturing background, leading many to believe that, when the technology becomes commercially viable, Google will look to implement its technology in cars built by traditional manufacturers.

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That said, the autonomous car market is hotting up, and several manufacturers are expected to make announcements for the space at this week's CES. Yesterday it was announced that General Motors had invested $500m into ride-hailing service Lyft, and is looking to build autonomous cars that can be hailed from smartphones in partnership with the company. Meanwhile, Kia and Mercedes are also expected to demo self-driving concept cars at the tech show.

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