Cars of the future - Driverless cars step up a gear
on 27 September 2016
You've probably already heard about driverless cars, but you could be able to buy one sooner than you'd think. They were once the thing of Sci-Fi movies, but not any more, as Ford have stated that they aim to be mass producing fully autonomous cars, without a steering wheel, accelerator or pedals, by 2021! It will initially be used only for robotic taxi services in restricted urban areas but should be available for the public to purchase by the middle of the decade.
After announcing that Ford will be making investments in the autonomy research industry, Ford's President, Mark Fields said:
“There will be a growing per cent of the industry that will be fully autonomous vehicles. Our goal is not only to be an auto company, but an auto and mobility company.”
There are different levels of autonomy technology, put in place by the Society of Automotive Engineers, from one to five. Level two being a level of automation that requires driver monitoring at all times, and level five being full autonomy in any driving condition.
Like some of the cars you might have already heard about or seen from Google, Ford will be concentrating on level four, which is "high automation", where the car is able to operate unmonitored for a particular use, such as farming, deliveries or city driving. Ford are focusing on city area driving.
Ford Fusions are considered the best Ford for the job. “It’s the absolute best vehicle right now for testing self-driving,” says Bobby Hambrick, CEO of Autonomous Stuff, a company developing retro-fit automated driving kits. “There are no other carmakers that are so open to work through third parties like us.”
As well as Ford, car maker Volvo are also investing heavily in driverless technology. They aren't going at it alone though. Volvo are working with Uber, with the aim of developing an autonomous taxi service, currently being tested on a vehicle based on Volvo's XC90 SUV.
Volvo’s chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson said:
“Volvo is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology, and possess an unrivalled safety credibility. This alliance [with Uber] places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”
With all of this investment going into the industry from car makers, we can see that driverless cars are on the horizon. Will Ford be making them on mass by 2021? We'll wait and see!
Read more about cars of the future in our article about cars without mirrors
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