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US-based car manufacturer Ford Motor Company has joined hands with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a new research project to measure pedestrian traffic, in a bid to improve transportation services.

The project aims to introduce electricity powered shuttles that operate on city roads, as well as on the campus walkways.

The vehicles will be equipped with LiDAR sensors and cameras to identify and measure pedestrian flow and predict demand for the shuttles.

The analysis would help researchers and drivers to route the vehicles in locations that has greater demand and accommodate riders more easily.

Ford Research and Advanced Engineering vice-president Ken Washington said: “The onboard sensors and cameras gather pedestrian data to estimate the flow of foot traffic.

“This helps us develop efficient algorithms that bring together relevant data.

“It improves mobility-on-demand services, and aids ongoing pedestrian detection and mapping efforts for autonomous vehicle research.”

The MIT research is being conducted by the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s Aerospace Controls Lab (ACL). ACL conducts research on topics related to autonomous systems and control design for aircraft, spacecraft, and ground vehicles.

ACL director Professor Jonathan How said: “Through the mobility-on-demand system being developed for MIT’s campus, ACL can investigate new planning and prediction algorithms in a complex, but controlled, environment, while simultaneously providing a testbed framework for researchers and a service to the MIT community.”

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