The company is already testing Fusion Hybrid self-driving prototypes.
Last month it was announced Ford is planning to launch a fully-autonomous vehicle by 2021, as a part of a car-sharing program. Now it turns out the Blue Oval wants to expand its self-driving services with the market launch of a driverless car for private consumers by 2025.
TheDetroitBureau reports Ford wants to take the driver out of the picture entirely and plans to start selling vehicles with what the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies as a Level 4 autonomous technology. In other words, these cars won’t need a steering wheel or pedals because humans will never have to take over control.
“We believe the next decade will be defined by the development of autonomous vehicles,” Ford CEO Mark Fields summarized at a conference looking at future trends, sponsored by the automaker.
He also added the cost of driverless systems will drop with time, just like with smartphones, and this will make them affordable. Ford is “dedicated to put autonomous vehicles on the road for millions of people, not just those who can afford a luxury vehicle,” Fields explained.
During the conference, Fields outlined the main challenges that companies like Ford will face during the development process of autonomous vehicles. In addition to the technology itself, he also pointed to regulatory issues, economic issues, and public acceptance.
Ford is already testing autonomous Fusion prototypes in the United States, and plans to triple its test fleet of cars by the end of the year, and then triple it once again next year. The company has also started testing an autonomous research vehicle at night without headlights turned on in attempt to prove the car's LiDAR sensors and virtual driver software is “robust enough to steer flawlessly around winding roads” without the use of cameras.
Note: Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle pictured.
Source: Ford via TheDetroitBureau