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Ford plans fully autonomous ride share car by 2021

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Ford plans to mass produce a fully autonomous vehicle for car-sharing by 2021.
Ford plans to mass produce a fully autonomous vehicle for car-sharing by 2021.
Ford has announced its plans to have a large-scale driverless ride-sharing service in operation by 2021.

Ford’s global chief Mark Fields made the bold statement overnight from the car-maker’s Silicon Valley-based research centre in the United States.

“Ford will be mass producing vehicles with full autonomy within five years and that means there will be no steering wheels, no gas pedals and no brake pedals - a driver is not going to be required.

“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. 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 cars.”

The driverless vehicles will form an integral part of the company’s plan to offer a ride-sharing service.

Ford said the cars will be level-four capable autonomous vehicles.

The Society of Automotive Engineers classifies level-four autonomy as a vehicle with high automation that is able to perform all aspects of driving without human interaction. The most advanced cars currently on the road such as the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Tesla Model S are still only at a level-two stage of partial automation.

To achieve its ambitious level-four ride-share goal Ford has acquired and invested in several research organisations and advanced tech companies including LiDAR sensor developers Velodyne; Israel-based computer learning operation SAIPS; machine vision researchers Nirenberg Neuroscience; and 3D mapping firm Civil Maps.

In 2015 Ford announced its Smart Mobility plan, which includes autonomous vehicles, ride sharing and other transport services.

Most recently Ford Australia made its move into the ride-share market by partnering with ride-sharing and parking service Carhood. The collaboration sees Ford providing vehicles to Carhood along with discounts to Ford owners who use Carhood.

Would you let a vehicle without a steering wheel or brake pedal do the driving? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero mathematical ability. Unable to build a laser in an exam and failing to solve the theoretical challenge of keeping a satellite in orbit, his professor noted the success Richard was enjoying in the drama and writing courses he had been doing on the side. Even though Richard couldn’t see how a degree in story-telling and pretending would ever get him a job, he completed one anyway. Richard has since been a best-selling author and a journalist for 20 years, writing about science, music, finance, cars, TV, art, film, cars, theatre, architecture, food, and cars. He also really likes cars, and has owned an HQ ute, Citroen 2CV, XW Falcon, CV8 Monaro and currently, a 1951 Ford Tudor. A husband and dad, Richard’s hobbies also include astronomy.
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