Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University will partner with Ford Motor Co. to research whether a car’s infrared sensors, called LiDAR, can see around obstacles and objects in its path. The aim is to equip future automated, or self-driving, cars with intuition similar to what drivers use to discern what lies on the road ahead, and then to make evasive maneuvers like slamming on the brakes or changing lanes if necessary, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Stanford will focus on whether LiDAR has the capability to do this, while MIT will work with Ford to generate real-time, 3D maps of a vehicle’s environment with LiDAR. The sensors are already capable of bouncing infrared light off of objects over 200 feet away and discerning their size and shape based on the light waves that return. According to the Times, car companies expect to have self-driving cars hitting the pavement by the year 2020.