With no option for human intervention.
Yesterday (August 16), Ford announced its plan to have fully autonomous vehicles on the roads by 2021.
Similar to Tesla’s idea for a “shared fleet” of self-driving cars, Ford plans to offer its self-driving cars to ride-sharing or ride-hailing services.
"It's now clear that the next decade is going to be defined by the automation of the automobile," Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement broadcasted online. "We see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford's moving assembly line did over a hundred years ago."
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International, a level 4-capable autonomous vehicle handles all driving functions without a fallback option for a human driver to intervene. Therefore, functions like navigation, steering, and road awareness would be completely handled by the self-driving car.
Ford plans to have level 4-capable autonomous vehicles in commercial operation in the next 5 years.
In Ford’s ambitious plan, the company will roll out cars with no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, completely eliminating the ability of a human driver to take over. Ford’s vision is to provide an alternative option for people physically unable to drive themselves or unable to afford a private vehicle through their autonomous ride services, officials say.
"Where we see the greatest opportunity, is where we're able to remove the driver from the responsibility of driving altogether," Ford CTO Raj Nair said in the statement.
How exactly does Ford plan to pull off this undertaking? The company announced investments in tech companies with specializations in machine learning, artificial vision intelligence, light sensors, and high-resolution maps.
Further, Ford will double the employees at its Silicon Valley office.