The US automaker has seemingly responded to GM’s plans to offer autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electrics through the ride-sharing service Lyft, by announcing their own fully autonomous ride-sharing vehicle coming in 2021.
The autonomous, ride-sharing and connected sectors are increasingly intertwined – and we may very well see them amass into one super-segment in the near future. By then though, we’ll be dealing with Ford’s first autonomous ride-sharing car coming in 2021. By the way, this one is going to be competing not only with GM’s Lyft Chevrolet Bolts, but also with whatever Google will have cooked up. This is because the vehicle is part of what the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies as a Level 4 self-driving vehicle – these lack a steering wheel or pedals because humans will never take control of the automobile. Ford says the model will only be used for a “ride-hailing or ride-sharing service,” a company similar to Uber or Lyft (or maybe even one of them).
Ford is working hard on increasing its presence in these emerging sectors, forming new partnerships – with sensor company Velodyne, computer-learning company SAIPS, machine-vision group Nirenberg Neuroscience, and 3D-mapping company Civil Maps, for example. The carmaker is also in the process of seriously increasing its Silicon Valley presence – the technology research center in Palo Alto is adding two new buildings with a total of 150,000 square feet of space, while also doubling the staff by the end of next year.