Ford plans autonomous taxi fleet “by 2021”

Ford Motors has announced that it will create a "high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle" by 2021.

The vehicle will be used for "ride sharing" like a car pool or bus and "ride hailing" like a cab.

The car will operate "without a steering wheel, gas or brake pedal, for use in commercial mobility".

Ford’s movement towards a taxi service comes at a time when Uber is beginning to introduce their first self-driving cars.

Ford say their plan is to "be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics" and that they have been developing and testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years.

The firm has also said it was collaborating with four autonomous vehicle start-ups, and planned to double its teams in Silicon Valley and Palo Alto, California.

Ford will build two buildings with 46,000 square metres of work and lab space adjacent to the current Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto by the end of 2017.

This year the company 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. The company plans to triple this number again next year.

Mark Fields, Ford’s president, said: "The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.

"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."

Images: A fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle (Ford)

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  1. It’s a very big sell! Can we trust that which we do not understand the workings of or just how safe such a new form of travel will be without a human driver at the wheel!? Given the self drive Tesla car fatal accident I for one would not risk my life in anything similar! I think that it will take some time and an very clean accident free safety record before any sort of wide spread public confidence can be realised!

  2. Jose, I appreciate your comment, but question whether human drivers are the safest drivers, or even safer than than the self-driving vehicles now being tested. Current accident statistics suggest not. I believe that self-driving vehicles, part of the larger move in robotics and automation, are a positive and inevitable advance into the future. All the best, Bill

  3. It is inevitable that this technology will be around in the very near future. There will be trials and accidents as there was as aircraft were developed to the state that they are in today. I have flown in fully automated aircraft recently and frankly the pilot was superfluous. With the technology available at present let alone what the developments will realise in the next few months the elimination of human error in piloting and driving cars will bring much needed safer roads.

  4. I don’t think it needs to be accident free, or that it ever will be. But I think it will get to the stage where statistically it’ll be safer to get in autonomous car than one with a human driver.

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