Ford Motor Co. plans to produce a fully autonomous vehicle for commercial operation by 2021, as part of a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service, the company announced.
The vehicle will require no human driver for operation. “That means there will be no steering wheel, no gas pedals, and no brake pedals,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford.
To reach that goal, the company is investing in — or collaborating with — four startups: Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience, and Civil Maps. Additionally, Ford is doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” Fields said. “We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people — not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”
Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
“Ford has been developing and testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president for global product development, and chief technical officer. “We have a strategic advantage because of our ability to combine the software and sensing technology with the sophisticated engineering necessary to manufacture high-quality vehicles. That is what it takes to make autonomous vehicles a reality for millions of people around the world.”
This year, Ford will triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet to become the largest test fleet of any automaker — bringing the number to about 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the roads in California, Arizona, and Michigan, Ford said. There are plans to triple it again next year.
To view a video about the annoucement, click on the photo or link below the headline.