* Ford announced plans to have its fully autonomous car on the road by 2021.
* The vehicle will be aimed at ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Taxify
* The American automaker has invested significantly in a range of companies that are developing technologies that can help to build its self-driving cars.
* Ford also plans to expand its Research and Innovation campus and double the size of its team by the end of 2018.
The race to have the world’s first fully autonomous car is gathering momentum with each passing day and Ford is determined not to get left behind.
Yesterday, Ford CEO, Mark Fields said at an event in Silicon Valley that the company plans to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021. The vehicles are aimed at ride-sharing and ride-hailing fleets like Uber and Lyft. It is understood that Ford has been developing self-driving cars for the past 10 years, yesterday’s announcement by Fields however commits the company to timeline.
To get there, Ford has invested significantly in a range of companies that are developing technologies that can help build its autonomous cars. Such investments include: the $150 million investment in Velodyne – a company that makes Light Detector and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors; the acquisition of SAIPs – an Isreali company that specialises in machine learning and computer vision. The American automaker will also obtain an exclusive licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience.
In addition, Ford is planning on expanding its Research and Innovation campus in Palo Alto with added plans in place to double the size of its team by the end of 2018.
The company plans to build a car that achieves the highest level of automation available in the industry – SAE Level 4, but will keep it limited to ride-sharing services within approved locations. Therefore as well as getting the hardware and software ready, the company will also be working on acquiring very high resolution mapping data for the specific locations where the self-driving cars are to be deployed.
The cars will be able to handle all aspect of driving – without a need for manual inputs through steering wheel and pedals – but will be limited to areas where the highest quality of mapping information have been captured.
[Featured photo: Ford]