Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. has announced its intent to have a high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 for a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service.
The company’s first fully autonomous vehicle is being specifically designed for commercial mobility services, will be available in high volumes, and will not feature a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals.
“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,” says Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford.
To assist with the development of the autonomous vehicle, Ford has invested in Velodyne, a Silicon Valley-based light detection and ranging sensor company; acquired SAIPS, an Israel-based computer vision and machine learning company; obtained a licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience, a machine vision company; and is working with Berkeley, Calif.-based Civil Maps to further develop 3D mapping capabilities.
The company is also expanding its Silicon Valley operations, and creating a dedicated campus in Palo Alto.
Adding two new buildings and 150,000 square feet of work and lab space adjacent to its current Research and Innovation Center, the expanded campus grows the company’s local footprint and supports plans to double the size of the Palo Alto team by the end of 2017.
This year, Ford will triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet to be the largest test fleet of any automaker – bringing the number to about 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the roads in California, Arizona, and Michigan, with plans to triple it again next year.
Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.