Ford has set its eyes on an ambitious development process that will see a self-driving car that has no pedals or wheels hit the roads by 2021, which is just five years from now.
According to the car maker, the said vehicle will be meant for ride-hailing and ride-sharing fleets. But as noted at the beginning, this looks like an ambitious plan for Ford, no wonder it will not be working alone on the project. Apparently, several startups, among them Velodyne, which deals with LIDAR sensors, SAIPS that deals with the making of computer vision and machine learning programs as well as the likes of Civil Maps and Nirenberg Neuroscience, LLC will have a huge role to play towards realizing the end product.
Ford acknowledged that it is still too early to even start talking about the vehicle or how it will probably look like. For the time being, all the focus will be directed towards putting together the right hardware and software for making this a reality.
Still, the driverless car will be built based on the SAE Level 4 automation standard. As a result, the car will be able to handle all driving aspects without any problems. Despite this, the car might still be limited to certain roads or even regions. In essence, this limitation could be a plus for Ford as it makes the whole process a bit easier since the built car is only set to handle certain areas and situations as opposed to building them to handle every possible situation.
While Ford might have made its intentions of hitting the road with a fully autonomous car by 2021, the same time-frame is also what the company has to ensure that governments get every regulation right and in their favor. Ford, alongside Uber and Google, has been pushing for the acceptance of autonomous cars since the beginning of this year, something it hopes it will have achieved by the time the driverless car is here.
As an initial step, Ford will only be selling the cars to ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, for instance, Lyft and Uber. Whether this will change in future is still unknown, but who knows, anything is possible. As for the pricing aspect, Ford is adamant that the car will be “a lot more expensive” than the well-known Crown Victoria thanks to the extensive computing software and hardware it will pack.
Even with this, Ford is still aware that there is competition out there, especially from Google. In fact, the search engine giant has been testing its self-driving cars for quite some time now. Furthermore, Ford’s potential customer, Uber, has been spending huge as it looks to enter into the autonomous car industry. There is no doubt that the industry will be interesting in five years’ time.