Ford’s LiDAR-packing, self-driving car maps the road in 360 degrees

So stop picking your nose, it can see you
Ford self driving car

In the long, long list of things that are terrifically annoying, Other People’s Driving ranks pretty high. It’s right up there with the exacerbating Leaky Headphones On Public Transport, and almost on a par with the infuriating People Who Leave Little Bits of Instant Coffee in the Sugar. We’re getting tetchy just thinking about that one.

Understandably, then, car companies are so keen to reduce the impact of the most difficult and dangerous element in driving - the ape behind the wheel - and Ford is showing off its solution here at Mobile World Congress. The motorfacturer’s Automated Research Hybrid has four spinning eyes, each about the size of a tin of beans, which fire bursts of infra-red light as they rotate. By pinging the IR light off its surroundings and using the delay to see how far away things are, the LiDAR system scans the area around the car at a frankly astonishing 2.5 million times per second.

The result is a 360-degree picture of the car’s surroundings rendered in delay-free robovision that can spot hazards up to 60 metres away. It's one of the developments that will, over the next decade or so, automate driving and phase out the annoying business with the pedals and the stick and the people who don't bother to indicate or look in their mirror before swinging into your lane.

And while that's still a while away, Ford has also chosen MWC to announce the new Focus, a revamped design that sports more sensors than a shark's face and uses its onboard smarts to both park itself and extricate itself from tight parking spaces. Other futuristic highlights include adaptive cruise control and a new version of Ford's Sync system, which lets you control any Android or iOS device by pressing a button on the steering wheel and using natural voice commands.