The second largest US automaker has recently unveiled plans to increase its efforts to research, develop and ultimately market self driving vehicle technology, according to company officials, in a bid to level up the playing field with global rivals.
The company will feature advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle model base in the next half a decade, with the systems widely seen as the threshold designed to make the transition to fully autonomous cars easier. The systems will deliver hands-free operation of the autos under certain conditions by taking over from the driver in basic steering, braking and throttle. Ford has been a little behind other peers, such as General Motors, Volkswagen Ag’s Audi, Mercedes-Benz or Tesla Motors, with all of the aforementioned competitors announcing strategies to implement such semi-automated driving systems within the upcoming 18 months. Now Ford has also created a global team under the supervision of 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer to focus on the research and development of driverless vehicles.
The decision shows that Ford is moving from a lower ranked research effort to a high-level advanced engineering plan, with chief executive officer Mark Fields signaling Ford’s drive to commit to the expanding industry sector. “During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” commented Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief. The strategy is also being titled “another step closer to production” of fully automatic self-driving vehicles, though he refrained from putting a specific timeframe for the futuristic models.