Ford Motor Co. will unveil a first-of-its-kind solar-powered C-MAX concept car at this week’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.
The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept will be unveiled just a few days ahead of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens to the media Jan. 13 and to the public Jan. 18.
The vehicle uses a solar panel roof to draw power from a special solar concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass to power its battery.
“We’re able to fully recharge the battery with just using the sun,” explained Mike Tinskey, Global Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure for Ford. “As the sun traverses the sky we actually have to keep that focus on the solar panels. The way we do that, we actually use the vehicle autonomously to move. It keeps it concentrated at all times.”
Driverless vehicles have seen lots of buzz in recent years and they look more like reality than ever on the Las Vegas show floor.
Audi impressed visitors to CES with a preview of its autonomous technology, which it hopes to bring to market in just five years.
“This car on a public highway,” said Brian Cooley, CNET Editor at Large, “Is able to use it’s own radar, sonar, forward cam and a new laser that’s invisible. [Also] laserlight to map out the world around it at 40mph doing it’s own steering, braking and accelerating.”
One challenge for driverless vehicles is avoiding wrecks. Ford’s vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology attempts to address that using WiFi and GPS signals. Greg Stevens, Global Manager for Ford Driver Assistance, described how the tool works this way: ”As long as the vehicle knows where the other vehicles are, if there’s any sort of collision scenario that might be occurring then we can provide a warning.”