Palo Alto, California— Ford has announced their plan to deliver self-driving cars to our roads by 2021.
The message was delivered by Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, during a conference held yesterday. The outline of the plan says that the car company aims to have driverless vehicles ready to be used for commercial use within the next five years.
The news about autonomous vehicles is nothing new. But now that Ford has given a definitive release date, it seems that these cars will be here sooner than imagined.
Ford has been able to make such a bold promise about their self-driving cars with help from tech company partnerships around the globe. They have invested $75 million in Velodyne, a company that makes laser beam sensors. They also invested in a company called Civil Maps, which is a start up that creates 3D maps for automated cars. Recently, the automaker has also acquired Saips, an Israeli start-up that creates computer vision technology.
The self-driving cars are going to be a lot different than traditional automobiles, however.
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. “If someone had told you 10 years ago, or even five years ago, that the C.E.O. of a major automaker American car company is going to be announcing the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles, they would have been called crazy or nuts or both.”
Ford stands up against some fear competitors in this budding industry, however. For a while, Tesla has been a leader in developing driver-assistance and collision avoidance systems. Google and Apple have their own self-driving projects in the works. Even Uber is working on their own automated driving technologies that could potentially allow people without driver’s licenses to get places with ease.