Ford is implementing a “Smart Mobility” plan that includes 25 experiments (many of which don’t feature self-driving cars).
According to Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technical officer and the group vice president of Global Product Development, the self-driving car could be just months away from becoming a reality for everyday drivers.
“We’re already manufacturing and selling semi-autonomous vehicles that use software and sensors to steer into both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, adjust speed based on traffic flow or apply the brakes in an emergency,” Nair said. “There will be a Ford autonomous vehicle in the future, and we take putting one on the road very seriously.”
Like Google, Ford has added sensors that generate real-time 3-D maps of the environment. However, according to Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, it’s not a race to see who can get it done first.
“Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road,” Fields said. “Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers’ lives. Henry Ford taught us long ago that a good business makes excellent products and earns a healthy return. A great business does all that while creating a better world. That is what continues to drive us each day.”
Ford is working with the University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Santa Clara and San Jose State to make the car practical, reliable and resilient.
“Having a strong presence in Silicon Valley allows us to further accelerate our research on a wide range of technologies, and apply our insights to create real-world mobility solutions,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering.
I’m not sure how long it will be before these cars make it to Milwaukee, but I, for one, am excited.
What Do You Think?
Are you as excited about driverless cars as I am, or are you concerned about their practicality and safety? (I’ll admit that I have those concerns, too.)