Ford keeps sensors insect-free

Ford is keeping autonomous car sensors clean by taking advantage of the “tiara,” the structure that sits on top of all Ford self-driving vehicles and holds the collection of cameras, LiDAR and radar.

Ford has developed a system that keeps vehicle sensors and cameras free of insects. This is especially important for the smooth environment detection of self-driving cars. Ford bundles the sensors and radar technology of its autonomous test vehicles in the so-called "Tiara" module. While driving, it is continuously vented through various slots near the camera lens. This creates a powerful stream of air that deflects insects away from the sensor itself.

In beetles, for example, tests have shown that the airflow successfully diverts the vast majority of them from the sensors. However, this solution was not perfect at first, as not all insects could be fully captured by the airflow. In addition, a method had to be developed to clean the sensors when needed.

The newly developed cleaning system is fully integrated into the Tiara module and has wash nozzles that can spray sensors and camera lenses with a special liquid.
After cleaning, the tiara dries by itself. It releases air through a slot that quickly removes moisture from surfaces. Among other things, the system was tested in the forests in the west of the US state of Michigan to see how it reacted to swarms of beetles.

The third generation of self-propelled test vehicles, which are already being tested in real-life traffic in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami and Washington DC, are equipped with this cleaning system.

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