Ford Motor Company recently announced that by 2021, they will be launching fully autonomous vehicles for commercial operation such as ride hailing and /or ride sharing as part of the Ford Smart Mobility plan.With it, the company intends to be at the top of the autonomous vehicle fields and in ride sharing.
The American automaker claims that by the next decade, the automobile world will be filled with autonomous vehicles. And before that happens, Ford is aiming to make a significant impact on the ride-sharing service ahead of other automakers.
“Ford has been developing and testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years. 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,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer.
To date, Ford has already invested in a 3D mapping startup company called Civil Maps. The company has already received $6.6 million which allowed them to develop an artificial intelligence software that can collect data from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and cameras to become readable data for 3D mapping.
Beyond that, Ford also plans on expanding their team and facilities in creating a campus in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley. The company will also be partnering with other tech companies like sensor company Velodyne, machine-vision firm Nirenberg Neuroscience and computer-learning company SAIPS.
By this year, Ford plans to triple its autonomous vehicles test fleets by bringing at least thirty of the self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the road and triple the number again next year. Several months ago, Ford started testing their autonomous Fusion Hybrid sedans with the use of LIDAR technology which allowed each car to maneuver through a course without the use of headlights.
“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,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO.
Today, Ford is currently working with 40 startups and has developed a strong collaboration with many incubators. By mid-2017, the expanded Palo Alto campus is be expected to finally see the light of the day.