Self-driving cars and drones are two of the most fascinating technology breakthroughs of recent times.
Self-driving cars include various onboard sensors for sensing an environment surrounding the vehicle in order to detect objects and other potential obstacles that may impede the travel of the vehicle. The vehicle also includes onboard communication devices capable of communicating with information servers in order to obtain additional information related to the environment surrounding the vehicle.
However, onboard sensors of self-driving cars are limited to a certain distance. Therefore, drones become ideal companions to cars for scouting obstacles and trouble far ahead.
A recent Ford patent indicates that Ford plans to provide detachable drones with its self-driving cars. When a self-driving car needs information from drone, it launches the drone. The drone takes a flight and performs the required tasks.
For example, if the vehicle is running low on fuel, the drone is instructed to locate a nearby gas station, identify a location of the nearby gas station, and transmit the gas station location information back to the car.
As another example, if the car is currently in an area where the navigational system has inadequate mapping information, the drone is used to identify navigational information (e.g., previously unidentified streets, previously unidentified street names, previously unidentified paths, previously unidentified upcoming hazards, previously unidentified upcoming terrain information, etc.) that may be transmitted back to the car in order to update the navigational system’s mapping information.
Publication number: US 20160347452
Patent Title: Automotive Drone Deployment System
Publication date: 1 Dec 2016
Filing date: 8 Aug 2016
Inventors: Joe F. Stanek; John A. Lockwood;
Original Assignee: Ford Global Technologies, LLC