Aug. 17, 2016—Ford announced Tuesday that it aims to have mass-produced, fully autonomous level 4 vehicles available for commercial applications by 2021.
The SAE level 4-capable vehicles would not require a steering wheel, gas or brake pedals, or any other driver input. Ford would introduce the vehicles in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service application.
“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,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “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.”
This year, Ford will triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet, raising the number of vehicles to more than 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans. The vehicles will be tested in California, Arizona and Michigan. Ford plans to triple the test fleet again next year.
Ford will invest in or collaborate with four startups to increase autonomous vehicle development: Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, and Civil Maps. The four startups will contribute in the areas of advanced algorithms, 3-D mapping, LiDAR, and radar and camera sensors.
“Ford has been developing and testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, 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.”