Published: August 18, 2016
At a recent event in Palo Alto, California, company’s president Mark Fields has shared his plans to launch fully autonomous cars by the year 2021. It is doing so by doubling the investment in its research centre in the city, and make sizable investments in technology companies in the autonomy industry.
We’re announcing our intent to have fully autonomous vehicles in commercial operation for a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service beginning in 2021. This is significant. Ford will be mass producing vehicles capable of driving fully autonomously within five years. No steering wheel. No gas pedals. No brake pedals. A driver will not be required. Our goal is not only to be an auto company, but an auto and mobility company.
The company is planning to double the number of employees that are currently working, which is almost 130. It’s important to understand that this is not just about building an autonomous vehicle. There’s something deeper, something that motivates us every day, something that’s in the DNA of the company.
Since the past few years, Ford has defined itself as a technology company rather than a general car maker. This means that the company is leaving no stone unturned to become an auto company that does not only manufactures car but also making it a future revolution.
It’s now clear that the next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile. In fact, we see autonomous vehicles as having as big an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did a hundred years ago.
At a recent investment, Ford has invested $75 million in Velodyne, the Silicon Valley-based leader in LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, to move quickly towards mass production of a more affordable, automotive-grade LiDAR sensor. According to the company, it has a longstanding and established relationship with Velodyne, and was among the first to use LiDAR more than 10 years ago during the DARPA Grand Challenge.
In yet another acquisition process, Ford is also planning to shake hands with SAIPS, a machine learning and artificial intelligence start-up based in Israel, which will play a key role in image and video processing, object detection, signal processing and deep learning capabilities to help autonomous vehicles learn and adapt to their surroundings.
Therefore, these partnerships will help build on a recent Ford investment in Pivotal, which is helping accelerate the software needed to support autonomous vehicles.