We’ve heard of GM’s autonomous fleet deal with Lyft, well now Ford is joining the fray and they hope to have their own ride-sharing fleet of fully autonomous cars roam the city streets by 2021.
In an effort to realize their goal, Ford will be doubling their Silicon Valley staff and more than doubling their Palo Alto team. They’re not just expanding in manpower but in the size of their offices too. The campus in Palo Alto will be getting two new buildings dedicated to autonomous vehicles.
They’ll also be investing or partnering with start-ups which currently includes Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, and Civil Maps. With these four companies, Ford will further research and develop in areas like advanced algorithms, 3D mapping, LiDAR, and radar and camera sensing.
We don’t know what model the fleet vehicles will be based off of but, we do know that whatever they come up with will meet the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) level 4 rating. Ford is aiming to have their vehicle “fully autonomous” and according to SAE, vehicles under level 4 will need to be able to steer, brake, accelerate, monitor the vehicle and roadway, respond to events, determine when to change lanes, turn, use signal, etc.
Everything will operate without driver/passenger intervention and even if we wanted to step on the brakes, we won’t be able to because Ford said their autonomous vehicle will be missing a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals.