As stated last Monday by the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company expects to begin selling affordable autonomous robot cars to the public by 2025, after selling such vehicles to ride-hailing companies by 2021.
Selling the cars to these businesses first will give Ford the scale needed to create “consumer cars,” as the idea is to make the prices fall enough so that they’re affordable by “millions of people, not just those who can afford luxury cars,” as stated by Fields that same Monday.
As the auto industry changes thanks to the emergence of autonomous cars and the “sharing economy,” the Ford Motor CEO tries to lead the company through the ever-changing landscape, transforming the centennial car company into both an automotive and mobility industry to succeed.
Fields have revealed in the last month plans to expand into the the mobility business, providing shuttle and bike services in primary cities.
The new golden era for vehicles
According to a press statement, Fields believes that the next ten years will be marked by the “automation of the automobile,” following this declaration, he detailed what he wished to accomplish by 2025: affordable autonomous cars for the masses.
Fields says that these cars, which by their very nature would lack the gas or brake pedals and the steering wheel, would be designed to take advantage of the fact the occupants won’t be preoccupied with driving them.
The reworked designs would allow customers to do things such as conducting business or working, or enjoy some form of entertainment during the trip.
Not the first, but maybe the best
Other companies have been testing and revealing their autonomous cars before Ford and putting them on the road. Google’s self-driving car project has signs that it will go from testing to commercialization by the end of the decade.
Uber Technologies Inc. will let their Pittsburgh customers hail autonomous Volvo sport utility vehicles sometime shortly, and Singapore announced just this last month the very first taxi service based exclusively on autonomous cars.
However, Fields warned against making comparisons, by claiming Ford has “been at this, guys, for over ten years now, don’t confuse activity with progress. Being in the forefront is important. We may not be the first, but when we do come out with it, we want to make sure that it’s accessible to millions.”
Testing, testing: experimental, autonomous Ford Fusion
The white Ford Fusions were being tested in Ford Motor’s test center, located in Dearborn, Michigan. The experimental vehicles successfully drove themselves down the streets, heeding traffic signs and lights. The Ford driver seated, not touching the controls, as the cars cruised along the streets.
And while everything went fine, there was an unexpected consideration the autonomous vehicle didn’t take into account: Human courtesy.
The cars are designed to stop for people in a crosswalk, the desired safety precaution. However, people are polite, and when a pedestrian made a gesture to let the car go first, the vehicle remained in place, unmoving.
The pedestrian was confused, not knowing if keep walking or stop, and that kind of reaction could also annoy fellow human drivers. A Ford representative noted that there was still a lot of work to do to refine their autonomous vehicles, including the reaction to moving objects, whether human or animal.
Sources: LA Times