Ford & Uber self-driving car in five years
Written by David McCowen at Drive.com.au
Ford plans to have a fleet of self-driving taxis on the road in 2021.
Ford has announced a daring plan to go into the ride-sharing business with self-driving cars in just five year’s time.
The automotive giant intends to produce thousands of autonomous vehicles for commercial operation in 2021 as part of a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service that could rival the likes of Uber.
Unlike semi-autonomous vehicles such as Tesla’s Model S and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Ford’s challenger will not feature a conventional steering wheel or pedals. The self-driving Ford is intended for commercial services, and it may not be sold to the public.
Ford chief executive Mark Fields says self-driving cars will change the world.
“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,” he says.
“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.”
The brand has been testing its self-driving cars at Mcity, a University of Michigan test environment similar to a movie set, and it will have 30 self-driving sedans on the road in California, Arizona and Michigan by the end of the year.
The blue oval’s chief technology officer, Raj Nair, told reporters that Ford is approaching self-driving vehicles as an important business opportunity.
“We’re a high-volume manufacturer,” he says.
“This is not a couple hundred development units in limited use. When we talk about high volume, it’s thousands of units – and sometimes more.”
Nair says Ford plans to charge customers based on mileage travelled, offering transportation as a service, rather than vehicles as a product.
Ford has not ruled out working with the likes of Uber or Lyft as part of its arrangement, though those services already have arrangements in place with Toyota and General Motors, respectively.
The brand has also been working on an innovative ride-sharing app that finds people who travel the same routes to similar locations, pairing strangers as part of car-pooling arrangement that could reduce traffic density in urban environments. – with wire services.
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