Ford has announced plans to build its first fully autonomous vehicle within the next five years, an automated, robotic ride sans steering wheel or foot pedals designed for use with ride-sharing programs.
The aggressive timeline requires collaboration with technology partners, and Ford has announced cooperation with key players in the fields of artificial intelligence, lidar camera production, advanced 3D mapping, and advanced algorithm creation.
Touted as a solution to mobility issues for the elderly, physically impaired and under-aged, efforts to build production-ready autonomous cars have been stepped up by several automakers, including BMW, Tesla, Nissan, and others.
Ford certainly has plenty of competition to contend with, but is confident that by focusing on the end goal of strictly autonomous vehicles, it can skip over unnecessary design phases that include partial human control input.
“I want to be clear about what our strategy is not—it’s not about Level 3 automation that would still require a driver,” said Ford chief technology officer Raj Nair.
“What we found in research is, there’s a challenge with Level 3 [partial human input in the driving process], and we don’t yet know how to manage a hand-off back to a driver, to have him situationally aware enough to re-engage in a safe manner.”
Speaking to the future of the world’s automotive landscape, Ford CEO Mark Fields said that autonomous cars will reshape our take on cars and personal mobility.
“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile,” said Fields. “We see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.”