Ford to release driverless car without steering wheel by 2021
The U.S. carmaker outlines plans to produce a fleet of self-driving vehicles for ride-sharing services.
In a bold move, Ford announced on Tuesday that it will produce fully autonomous vehicles “in high volumes” by 2021. The driverless fleet will be built in Ford’s research facility in Palo Alto, CEO Mark Fields said, according to the Guardian. The cars will be “specifically designed for commercial mobility services, such as ride-sharing and ride-hailing,” Fields explained.
Ford is not the first big player to announce the release of a fully autonomous car within the next five years: OEMs like BMW, Audi, Volvo and Nissan or tech giants like Google and Apple all have similar plans. Nonetheless, Ford’s announcement is remarkable for two reasons.
Firstly, Mark Fields made it clear that Ford’s autonomous vehicle would be radically different from cars that populate our roads today. “That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said according to the New York Times. So far, traditional OEMs have been careful to emphasize that in an autonomous vehicle, the customer will always have the choice whether he wants to drive himself or be driven. Ford’s plan now resembles Google’s approach, in that the company has abandoned the option for a human to steer its pod-shaped cars.
Secondly, Ford’s strategy to design the cars specifically for ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft further underlines a new commercial focus. Some experts have been predicting for a while now that car ownership could become obsolete. Because of this trend, Uber is heavily investing in driverless mobility and Lyft is teaming up with General Motors. And let’s not forget that Ricky Hudi recently told 2025AD, that in his personal vision, “in 10 to 15 years, car manufacturers will offer premium flat rates. For, let’s say, 1,500 Euros a month I will be able to use every vehicle of Audi’s product range.”