Ford Announces 2019 Autonomous Vehicle Plan
April 29, 2019—Ford CEO Jim Hackett told investors during the company’s Q1 2019 earnings call that the automaker intends to deploy upwards of 100 driverless vehicles by the end of 2019 and begin testing in a new city, according to a story by Venture Beat.
Ford will focus on more complex environments with seasonal changes and metro challenges rather than suburban areas where the roads don’t change that often.
Earlier this month, Hackett admitted that Ford had been overly ambitious in its plans to rapidly scale its self-driving efforts, according to the story. Hackett said that Ford is on track to launch a driverless car fleet in 2021, but said that it’ll likely be geofenced and the applications “will be narrow” because the problem of self-driving is still too complex.”
According to Venture Beat, Ford has a close relationship with Pittsburgh-based driverless technologies startup Argo AI, which it pledged to invest $1 million in over the next five years. Argo is currently testing autonomous cars in Miami and Detroit, with plans to expand tests to Washington, D.C. in the coming months, and it has obtained a permit to drive its self-driving cars on California roads.
As part of a $900 million investment in its Michigan manufacturing footprint announced two years ago, Ford said in March it would build a new factory dedicated to the production of autonomous vehicles. In July, Ford revealed it would create a separate $4 billion Detroit-based unit to house development operations, research, engineering, systems integration, and business strategy for its self-driving fleet, according to Venture Beat.