EV Maker Revving Up Autonomous Ambitions

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(Image courtesy of SF Motors.) (Image courtesy of SF Motors.)

An electric vehicle manufacturer with a plant in Mishawaka is progressing on its autonomous vehicle efforts. SF Motors, which is based in California and has a multi-year research and development agreement with the University of Michigan, has received permission from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its autonomous driving technology on public roads.

Road testing will also be conducted in Michigan and China. The company says it has made "ground-breaking progress in autonomous technologies" so far. SF Motors Chief Executive Officer John Zhang says "we believe this is the ideal time to begin putting our research to the test as we prepare to unveil our intelligent electric vehicles equipped with advanced autonomous and connectivity systems. To compete in the global EV market, we've placed a considerable investment in research and development and because our technology is at the core of our vehicles. We're humbled to see our technology be deployed in our backyard and see the future of our advanced systems as exceptionally bright."

Last year, SF Motors completed the purchase of a South Bend-based AM General LLC commercial assembly plant in Mishawaka. The facility had been slated for major layoffs after an AM General contract with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. was set to end, but the California company took it over and said it would bring on the displaced workers.

Chief Technology Officer Yifan Tang says "looking ahead, SF Motors targets to achieve protected autonomy in 2020 through fast innovations and iterated developments in multiple technology areas, such as deep learning, sensor fusion, path planning, human machine interface, safety and redundancy, vehicle electronics, to name a few. We will utilize our strength in system integration as well as supplier partnerships to overcome the many challenges in bringing autonomous driving to the global markets."

The company says it is planning to unveil an "intelligent" EV concept for global markets in late-March in the Silicon Valley.

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