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Ford Accelerates Fully Autonomous Vehicle Time-Table With Their 2021 Target Date


Ford made a huge announcement today, announcing their intent to deliver a fully autonomous, mass market vehicle for ride-sharing and ride-hailing by 2021.

Given the many potential issues with a transition towards full autonomy, Ford has decided that the best approach is to skip those stages and design directly to the end goal.

While many companies such as Google, Baidu, and Tesla had placed vague targets on their self-driving efforts, Ford has now committed themselves to delivering in 5 years.

Given that they have previously downplayed their plans, it is unlikely that the company would have made this announcement without being relatively certain that they will be able to deliver.

You've likely noticed that we've taken our time to discuss our autonomous vehicle plans, and that's very simply because we are not in a race to make announcements. We are in a race to do what's right for our customers...[and] our business." - Ford CEO Mark Fields

It turns out that Elon Musk was right, we are going to see full autonomy a lot faster than anyone expected. After seeing rivals such as Telsa (NASDAQ:TSLA) make big announcements regarding the future of autonomous vehicles that were light on concrete details, Ford (NYSE:F) made their own today, announcing their intent to

, mass market vehicle for ride-sharing and ride-hailing by 2021.

CTO Raj Nair noted (19:30 in video) that Ford hasn't figure out a good way to manage the driver hand-over necessary to deliver a level 3 autonomous vehicle, so they have chosen to design a fully autonomous vehicle instead of trying to implement that middle step as many other car manufacturers, such as Tesla, are working on.

Their plan involves a unique approach of combining both mediated and direct perception technology to develop a vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal that would be capable of acting completely on its own within specific "geo-fenced" areas. The initial rollout will start with dense urban centers such as San Francisco or...