Fisker on Monday announced a driver-assist system for its Ocean electric crossover SUV, which scheduled to start production in November.
Dubbed Fisker Intelligent Pilot (or FI Pilot for short), the system is built around a suite of sensors that includes an 8-megapixel front camera (part of a surround-view camera array) and what Fisker calls the first “digital radar” in a production car.
Fisker claims this new radar technology performs better than conventional radar. The five embedded radar units (one at each corner and another up front) can “see” into darkened spaces like tunnels, are better able to detect smaller vehicles in traffic, can better distinguish pedestrians from surrounding objects, and more precisely detect low-lying objects in the road. Fisker says the system can detect larger objects like vehicles up to 656 feet away and pedestrians up to 262 feet away.
Fisker claims digital radar will make its system safer on the highway, in the city, and in bad weather.
In addition to digital radar and cameras, FI Pilot will rely on ultrasonic sensors, and will have a driver-monitoring camera, Fisker said. However, there was no mention of lidar, which many automakers consider critical for driver-assist systems. Fisker previously indicated it would skip lidar, following the approach of Tesla and Toyota.
Granted, Fisker hasn’t offered much detail on the capabilities of FI Pilot. Given that it has a driver monitor, it may land at Level 2 on the SAE autonomy scale, similar to General Motors’ Super Cruise or Ford’s BlueCruise systems that can control the brake, throttle, and steering in some limited situations, but require the driver to take over in case the system can’t keep up. In that case. lidar may not be as important. But automakers like Mercedes-Benz are aiming for higher levels of automation, and matching that may be difficult without lidar. Fisker does say the system will have automatic emergency braking for front and rear cross-path situations and when turning against traffic.
Fisker unveiled the Ocean in production-intent form at the 2021 Los Angeles auto show, and has been taking reservations with an advertised $37,499 base price. The Ocean is based on a platform developed by Magna Steyr, and will be built at the company’s Austrian facility. Pre-production began earlier this year, with production of customer units scheduled to start in November for a 2023 model year launch.