Ford commits to produce autonomous cars for ride sharing by 2021

Ford announced on Tuesday that it will aim to produce an autonomous car for ride-sharing purposes by 2021.

In addition, Ford will be investing in startups to further its autonomous vehicle initiative as well as doubling its Silicon Valley team as well as its Palo Alto campus. The company has specified that it intends to have a “high-volume, fully autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation” in five years.

This announcement is part of the auto maker’s Ford Smart Mobility initiative, which outlines the company’s goal to lead in autonomous vehicles,  connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

“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,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, said in a statement.

“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,” he continued.

Ford has been researching and developing autonomous technology for the past ten years, and has just this year tripled its autonomous vehicle test fleet to become the largest test fleet of any automaker. Earlier this year, several partnerships were announced between tech companies and automakers such as Google and Fiat, Uber and GM, Toyota and Lyft, etc., to further developments in consumer mobility, autonomy and ride sharing.

Ford has invested in four startups to assist with its 2021 goal. These include Velodyne, a startup specializing in light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors, the Israeli machine learning startup SAIPS, the machine vision company Nirenberg Neuroscience LLP and the 3D mapping company Civil Maps.

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