Ford (NYSE: F) wants to put the world’s first true self-driving car on the road within five years. If that was not ambitious enough the historic American automaker wants to put the vehicle into mass production.

“Starting in 2021, if you want to get around the city without the hassle of driving or parking, Ford’s new fully autonomous vehicle will be there for you,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told reporters on August 16, 2016. Fields traveled to the company’s Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California, from its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan to make the announcement.

The as-yet unnamed vehicle will be marketed to ride-sharing services such as Uber rather than the general public, Ars Technica reported. Ford has been working with Uber; which has been testing self-driving Ford Fusions in Pittsburgh for some time. Ford and Uber have also been working together on optic technology at the Ford Proving grounds in Arizona.

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High Automation in Cars

Ford wants to be the first company that reaches Level Four or high automation with a self-driving car, as set by consulting firm SAE International. That means Ford’s vehicle would be capable of doing most of the things a driver does but not all of them.

It would be capable of performing most driving tasks such as parking, passing and navigating city streams on its own. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot in most cases the driver would rarely need to take control. This vehicle should be able to respond and react to most road hazards such as pedestrians and other vehicles on its own.

Ford still has some serious problems to work out with its technology including finding a safe means of switching from human driver to self-driving and back, Chief Technology Officer Raj Nair admitted. To achieve that goal, Ford will have to triple the size of its autonomous car research fleet twice in 2017, Ars Technica reported.

Ford is Serious about Self-Driving Vehicles

Nair also admitted that self-driving cars would cost too much for average people to operate. Instead only ride-sharing companies like Uber, taxi services, shuttle bus operators and possibly car rental specialists like Hertz (NYSE: HTZ) and Avis Budget (NASDAQ: CAR) would be able to afford to them.

This means that the first Level Four self-driving vehicle might not be a car at all. Instead it may be a Ford minivan; possibly its’ popular Transit Connect. Uber is thinking along the same lines; it has entered into an agreement with minivan specialist Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU) to develop an autonomous vehicle.

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A minivan would be a logical choice because there will also be a vast market for self-driving vehicles. Uber, Lyft and another unicorn called Deliv are already testing same-day delivery services for America’s largest retailer Walmart (NYSE: WMT) in a number of major US cities.

Ford might very well be the first company to get a self-driving vehicle on the road because of its vast resources. The automaker had $39.3 billion in the bank on June 30, 2016. It also reported making $13.63 billion in cash from financing and $20.38 billion in cash from operations on the same day.

That means Ford has the money to pour into autonomous car development. All that remains to be seen is if the public will accept self-driving vehicles on the streets or not. The real challenge might one of politics and public relations rather than technology or manufacturing.

 

https://i0.wp.com/geekcrunch.reviews/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dark-Blue-UV-2816-640-en_US.jpg?fit=640%2C480&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/geekcrunch.reviews/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dark-Blue-UV-2816-640-en_US.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Daniel JenningsInnovationDeliv,Ford (NYSE: F),Ford and Uber,Ford is Serious about Self-Driving Vehicles,Fully Autonomous Car,High Automation in Cars,Lyft,ride-sharing companies,Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Center,Tesla’s Autopilot,Transit Connect,Uber,world’s first true self-driving carFord (NYSE: F) wants to put the world’s first true self-driving car on the road within five years. If that was not ambitious enough the historic American automaker wants to put the vehicle into mass production. 'Starting in 2021, if you want to get around the city without the hassle...From A Geek to a Geek