Ashley Micks is using simulations to develop the algorithms that will help Ford vehicles drive themselves. Simulations can save huge amounts of time and money by reducing the number of real-world tests needed. Real-world tests take more time and resources to set up, and dangerous traffic scenarios can be difficult, expensive and risky to test with real vehicles. Ashley’s approach allows for more testing, more tweaking, and ultimately, a faster road to a smarter vehicle.
Ashley has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD in aerospace engineering. She has run simulations and experiments to help develop jet engine, satellites and 3D printers for advanced materials. But her true passion lies in improving quality of life and protecting the environment, and her latest work on autonomous driving has the potential to do both. She believes that autonomous vehicles provide new possibilities for optimizing energy efficiency and vehicle sharing. The technology can provide mobility to people who would otherwise be unable to drive, and it can reduce the rates of traffic accidents and injuries.
Ashley sees similarities between Ford’s goals for autonomous vehicles and Henry Ford’s vision for the moving assembly line. Ford wasn’t the first to use an assembly line, but his innovation tweaked the system, and in doing so offered personal mobility to an entire nation of new drivers. Likewise, Ashley isn’t too concerned with offering the public the first autonomous vehicle, but rather making autonomous driving accessible, so that greater safety and mobility is possible for everyone.