Ford hopes to launch a fleet of commercial vehicles as part of a ride-hail service in just five years, though it’s unclear which service Ford plans to partner with.
The automaker on Tuesday unveiled ambitious plans to build an autonomous fleet, saying it has invested in Velodyne, a self-driving tech company, in a bid to accelerate efforts toward its goal. These vehicles will apparently be level 4, which is fully autonomous and doesn’t require a driver. The only difference between level 4 and level 5 is that level 4 has a few restrictions on weather.
Ford CEO Mark Fields told Recode that more details about its fleet will be unveiled as the launch nears.
“There are some things we’re going to do on our own, [for] other things we’ll partner with others,” Fields said. “It all comes down to answering two really important questions: Where do we want to play, and how do we want to win? We’ll talk with a lot of folks and we’ll make more news about that as we get closer to introducing the vehicle into the marketplace.”
Ford previously held discussions with Uber but an eventual deal fell through. However, as Recode notes, there’s always a possibility the two companies will work things out. Fields said that partnering with a company will be key in the beginning for growth and revenue, as autonomous vehicles will be “relatively costly.”
“The first application of the fully autonomous vehicle will be commercial applications, whether it’s ride-hailing or parcel delivery,” Fields said, adding that we’ll see individual and retail adoption in the back half of the 2020s.
Ford’s EVP of global product development Raj Nair added that although Ford plans to focus on building a level 4 fleet, it will continue to pursue lower levels, too. Earlier this year, for example, the automaker announced plans to invest in driver assist technology, such as Traffic Jam Assist, that could come to vehicles in as little as three years.
If successful, it could fundamentally change ride-hailing services. Check out the source link for more from Recode’s report.
Update: This article has been updated to clarify that level 4 autonomy does not require a driver. We also incorrectly said Ford was only pursuing level 4 autonomy; in fact, the automaker is investing in driver assist technology that could arrive soon.
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