The Chief Executive Officer of the second largest US automaker, Mark Fields, forecasts that while it won’t be Ford, one of the global automakers will be able to sell a driverless vehicle within the next five years.
Fields pointed out it probably won’t be his company because Ford is currently focusing on more affordable features that would enable only partial autonomous driving, with increased driver assistance. “Fully autonomous vehicles are a real possibility,” Fields said on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where he was one of the keynote speakers. “Probably, in the next five years, you’ll see somebody introduce autonomous vehicles.” Automakers and technology companies such as Google Inc. are now in ahead on race to develop and produce elf-driving cars that can safely transport passengers in congested urban areas, for example. During the show, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand showcased the F 105, a prototype that can autonomously transport people and Audi took an A7 self-driving prototype on a road trip from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, carmakers and their suppliers are vying for a piece of the expected $11.3 billion in factory-installed technologies market for 2015, while customers one day should be able to buy vehicles without a steering wheel or brake pedals – navigating traffic in auto-pilot mode. Proponents of the autonomous technology claim that eliminating the human factor from the driving equation would yield more efficient and less jammed traffic, while safety would be increased thanks to the vehicles able to communicate with each other and the surroundings.