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Ford's autonomous vehicle project is part of the company's Smart Mobility Program (Photo: Ford)

Ford Motor appointed a director of autonomous vehicle development and said it is moving ahead with its driverless-car project.

The US automaker said 29-year Ford veteran Randy Visintainer will lead a global team to work on the advanced program. Advanced engineering is the next step in bringing a feature to market. It follows the research phase.

The Ford team will now work to create production-ready sensing and computing technology, while continuing to refine algorithms that are key to the flawless functioning of a driverless car.

Autonomous driving is part of the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which also addresses connectivity, mobility, customer experience and big data. Many of the development efforts are centered in the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California.

Raj Nair, who heads Ford's global product development, said advanced driver assistance features are part of the building blocks for the semi-autonomous technology Ford wants to deploy in its vehicles. "During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup to help make our roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability," he said in a press statement.

Separately, Ford said two European models will have a new driver-assistance feature that lets drivers see around corners using a video camera installed in the cars' grille.

Ford Motor said its "Front Split View Camera," which is designed to provide enhanced safety at road junctions where visibility is restricted, will be available on the new S-Max and Galaxy models that are launching in Europe later this year.

ford-around-corner-2015-300x220 Ford says many accidents at junctions result from Fobstructions to the driver's view (Photo: Ford)

“We have all been there and it’s not just blind junctions that can be stressful, sometimes an overhanging tree, or bushes can be the problem,” Ronny Hause, a Ford of Europe engineer, said in a press release.

The 33 millimeter-wide video camera will provide a 180-degree view from the front of the car. It is activated at the push of a button and has a specially designed retractable jet-washer that operates automatically when the windscreen wipers are activated.

Ford cited European data that show that, for 19 pc of drivers involved in accidents at junctions, obstructions to their view were an issue.

-By Arjen Bongard