More than a century since the introduction of the Model T, the car voted as the most influential one in the 20th century, Ford has embarked on another milestone - affordable self-driving cars by 2025.
The purpose of the company is to make self-driving cars affordable for the public, Ford Motor Co.'s chief executive officer confirmed.
"We're dedicated to putting autonomous vehicles on the road for millions of people, not just those who can afford luxury cars," said CEO Mark Fields in a speech at company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan on Monday, Sept. 12.
The 113-year-old automaker expects its fully autonomous cars on the streets by 2021. Initially, the company plans for its self-driving cars used for ride-sharing services in cities like using it as robot taxis and shuttle buses. After its pilot testing, it will produce cars for private use.
What's the catch? Since it's completely autonomous, the car has no steering wheel or even foot pedals. The car will be fully computerized to obey traffic lights and even brake at the right times.
The company has invested money and resources in various tech companies to help come up with the self-driving car. Ford partnered with Velodyne, a Silicon Valley-based firm that specializes in LiDar sensors. These sensors conduct light detection and ranging.
Signal Analysis and Image Processing Solutions (SAIPS) will be responsible for strengthening its expertise in artificial intelligence. This system will help the autonomous cars to learn from their surroundings.
Ford has acquired an exclusive licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, a company that can help with the car's navigation, facial recognition, object recognition and other applications.
Lastly, the automaker has invested in Civil Maps, a California-based company to further strengthen the car's ability to have high-resolution 3D mapping.
"We have a strategic advantage because of our ability to combine the software and sensing technology with the sophisticated engineering necessary to manufacture high-quality vehicles," said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer.
"That is what it takes to make autonomous vehicles a reality for millions of people around the world," he added.