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Ford is getting serious about self-driving cars

Big investment from the Blue Oval, with plans for steering wheel-less cars by 2021

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Like it or not, autonomous cars are coming. The latest big name to throw a truckload of cash at self-driving vehicles is Ford. And if you know your car history, you’ll be aware it’s a company that normally has a bit of influence in what’s popular and acceptable to the masses.

Ford says it will have a vehicle in production by 2021. And while the image it has released shows a Fusion with some robotics strapped to it, the end product will be something far more specialised, with ride sharing and hailing in mind.

As such, it will have no steering wheel or pedals. Ford has increased its Silicon Valley presence and invested in four companies to allow its vehicle to come to fruition, allowing it to properly develop the 3D mapping, LIDAR, cameras and sensors to make fully autonomous transport possible. It’s promising a vehicle that will be built in high volumes.

“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” says Ford predient, Mark Fields.

“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people - not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”

Ford has been working on autonomous tech for a decade already, and intends to triple its development fleet this year, meaning 30 Fusion Hybrids will be driving themselves around California, Arizona and Michagan. Next year should see the number rise to 90.

Reckon this really will be as momentous as the introduction of the Model T? Or are you yet to be convinced by self-driving cars?

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