Becoming an industry leader in the development and production of self-driving cars: This is the goal Ford has set for itself. And to get there, the carmaker is teaming up with four companies specialized in the development of autonomous-driving vehicles, all while doubling the size of its Silicon Valley team and expanding its Palo Alto complex more than twofold.
“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,”, stated Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford.
The product of over 10 years of research and development, Ford’s first fully autonomous vehicle will have neither a steering wheel nor pedals, and will qualify for level 4 as designated by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). In short this means it will not need any human intervention to move around.
“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,” declared Raj Nair, Ford Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice-President of product development.
Ford already has approximately 30 self-driving 30 Fusion hybrid sedans currently driving in California, Arizona and Michigan. In order to have the largest fleet of autonomous-driving vehicles in the automotive industry, Ford will triple that total this year, and aims to triple it again next year.