ford driverless car

Ford to launch driverless cars in 2021 - but consumers won’t be able to buy one

Image credit: ford

Ford has released a report detailing its self-driving vehicle plans which will see cars that are fitted with the technology hitting the roads in 2021.

The automaker’s initial plans are to use driverless vehicles as part of commercially driven services, rather than being sold directly to consumers.

“Our self-driving vehicles won’t initially be sold to customers in the way that cars are today,” the report titled ‘A Matter of Trust’ states.

“You’ll be able to experience these vehicles through multiple means, including commercial fleets in mobility services such as ride-hailing and goods delivery.

“We believe we can offer the best value to our customers by providing the technology through a fleet service, similar to the way Ford currently offers specially-engineered vehicles for taxi and police fleets.”

In the report, Ford says that trust is one of the central challenges to developing self-driving vehicles at the moment.

It sets out the testing regime for the technology which includes using two-person teams – a safety driver and a co-pilot in all test vehicles.

Ford is also conducting tests in different cities around the world and says its vehicles will operate differently depending on the location, in order to ape the typical driving behaviours of the locals.

Governments around the world have been trepidatious about embracing the technology over safety concerns. Remote-control parking was recently legalised in the UK as a stepping stone towards eventual legislation of full-blown driverless vehicles.

Ford’s autonomous vehicles will not include pedals or steering wheel and are targeting Level 4 automation. This is classed as offering a ‘high level of automation’, which means that the car can be operated by itself, but only in a specifically defined area of a city and only when the weather is good enough for the sensors to work properly. Fully autonomous functionality is defined as Level 5 automation and is not subject to such restrictions.

Initial Ford models will probably be hybrids rather than fully electric in order to keep costs down.

“Applying hybrid-electric technology to our self-driving vehicles delivers several benefits to our service partner companies, including maximum vehicle mileage to keep fleets on the road,” the report says.

“Plus, hybrids help provide the required amount of electrical power for self-driving sensors and computing systems without having a significant impact on the mileage.”

Last month, the UK government set forth proposals for how the UK’s transport infrastructure will be transformed with the advent of new technologies such as flying cars and self-driving vehicles. 

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