Ford Announces Plans for Fully Autonomous Ride Sharing Vehicle By 2021
This is Ford’s attempt at the first “Level 4” autonomous vehicle to hit public roads
At a packed conference hall, Ford president and CEO Mark Fields announced plans for a high-volume, fully autonomous ride-sharing vehicle to arrive by 2021. Ford claims this vehicle will possess "level 4" autonomy, meaning the interior of this car will feature no steering wheel, brake, or gas pedals; an industry first, if successful.
This is Ford's move toward capturing the first viable level 4 vehicle for public consumption, something other manufactures have remained hesitant about pursuing. While automakers like Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have launched autonomous driving systems that work with the driver, and not in-place-of, Ford plans seemingly bypass this stop-gap and remove the driver from the process.
In this pursuit, Ford has expanded its presence in Silicon Valley, including doubling both the size of the Silicon Valley workforce and campus. Alongside this staff increase, Ford invested in four local tech-ventures. These are developers of relevant autonomous technology, ranging from the creation of LiDAR, digital maps, and advances from the field of neuroscience.
While the level 4 ride sharing car is still a decent distance away, Ford is working hard to bring driver assistance and semi-autonomous tech online before then. The automaker reports there are around 30 test mules circulating around Michigan, Arizona, and California, wearing some seriously advanced LiDAR systems that allow the cars to navigate even in perfect darkness.
Look for more information on Ford's ride-sharing autonomous vehicle in the near future.