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Ford Announces Plans For Fully Autonomous Self-Driving Car By 2021

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Ford Motor Company has announced its plans to build a fleet of fully automated driverless vehicles for commercial ride-sharing by 2021, according to Reuters.

The company said it was increasing its investments in technology firms and tripling its investment in semi-autonomous systems, which would entail doubling the size of its Palo Alto research team while expanding its campus in Silicon Valley.

Ford has more than 100 researchers working at its Silicon Valley campus (Image: AFP)

Ford made no mention of Apple or Google in its announcement, suggesting it sees itself competing against other tech companies who have their own car plans, rather than teaming up with them.

Ken Washington, Ford's vice president of research, told Reuters it was important to signal that Ford intends to win in this space. "We're saying to partners, we are the winning partner. It's not a hollow promise, it's a real intent," Washington said.

"Launching a self-driving car first for ride-sharing is a better way to reach the mass market and make the cars more affordable," said Ford Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair. The company is unlikely to offer a similar driverless car without steering wheel or pedals to consumers until 2025 or later, explained Nair.

Ford said it would invest in "Level 4" autonomy, referring to standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The levels represent the degree of autonomous sophistication, with Level 4 being "high automation", meaning the car is able to drive unmonitored in a specific use case - a city area, in Ford's vision, for instance.

Nair said the company wasn't willing to let drivers take control from a level two or three vehicle at a moment's notice, citing safety concerns. "We don't yet know how to manage hand over back to the driver and have him engage and have him situationally aware, and be able to do that in a safe aware manner," he said, without mentioning Tesla's recent troubles.

The death of a Tesla driver in May who was using the company's "Autopilot" system but had his hands off the wheel has highlighted the confusion over drivers' responsibilities in a semi-autonomous car. Just yesterday, Tesla went so far as to remove the word "autopilot" from its China website after a driver in Beijing who crashed while the mode was active complained that the company had misled them about its capability.

"We abandoned the stepping-stone approach," added Ford chief executive Mark Fields, who believed there are too many risks involved in the safe "hand-over" of driving responsibility between car and driver.

Several sources indicate Apple is exploring various levels of autonomy in its much rumored car project, and has already met with California DMV officials regarding self-driving laws within the state.

The company's so-called Apple Car, codenamed "Project Titan" internally, is reportedly being headed up by former longtime executive Bob Mansfield, who last served as Senior Vice President of Technologies at the company. Last month it was reported that Apple's rumored 2020 target for launching the electric vehicle may have slipped to 2021.

Article Link: Ford Announces Plans For Fully Autonomous Self-Driving Car By 2021
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,271
Everyone wants a piece of the "self-driving" vehicle market these days.

It's the future. Our grandchildren will look back in quizzical incredulity and ask: "wait, all cars had to be driven by a person?"

I say that on the assumption that we're not going to have a Planet of the Apes scenario in 60 years, and Charlton Heston won't be roaming the desert outskirts with his top off.
 
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Alenore

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smacrumon

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Jan 15, 2016
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If Ford's autonomous driving car will be using old internal combustion engines that pollute the city, good luck getting passengers to board that vehicle. By 2021, Tesla will have fully autonomous electric cars that don't damage the environment. What vehicles do you think customers will choose in 2021, a gas guzzler or a super clean Tesla?
Time is up. Die slow (or fast), Ford Motor Company.
PS this ain't really a MacRumor.
 
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Kabeyun

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Mar 27, 2004
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Moving the state of the art in five years from "can't tell the difference between the side of a truck and the sky" to "go ahead and take a nap" sounds pretty ambitious.
 
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Jmausmuc

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2014
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If Ford's autonomous driving car will be using old internal combustion engines that pollute the city, good luck getting passengers to board that vehicle. By 2021, Tesla will have fully autonomous electric cars that don't damage the environment. What vehicles do you think customers will choose in 2021, a gas guzzler or a super clean Tesla?
Time is up. Die slow, Ford Motor Company.
PS this ain't really a MacRumor.

Can't even begin to explain how annoying these kind of posts are.

Everybody knows, that electric vehicles are not significantly cleaner than ICE vehicles because of of many reasons like manufacturing, toxic battery acids, energy production and so on.

Don't overexaggerate so much.
 
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jonnysods

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Sep 20, 2006
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I'll take one of these if it drives me all the way from Canada to Florida for my family vacation!
[doublepost=1471431841][/doublepost]
If Ford's autonomous driving car will be using old internal combustion engines that pollute the city, good luck getting passengers to board that vehicle. By 2021, Tesla will have fully autonomous electric cars that don't damage the environment. What vehicles do you think customers will choose in 2021, a gas guzzler or a super clean Tesla?
Time is up. Die slow (or fast), Ford Motor Company.
PS this ain't really a MacRumor.

Where do you think electricity comes from, or what electric vehicle batteries are made off? Flowers?
 
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LovingTeddy

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Oct 12, 2015
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Ha. "Everybody knows" comments like your one really don't stand up to scrutiny.

FACT CHECK!

Open up the bonnet on a conventional car and then open up a Tesla bonnet. The Tesla contains no consumables just free space for luggage, while the conventional car like Ford cars contain a cocktail of poisons, fossil fuels, and random junk that need to be replaced and maintained for the rest of the car's life costing the user forever. It's rather dishonest to state otherwise.

Customers won't want to step into something that destroys their environment, certainly not in 2021.

[doublepost=1471432170][/doublepost]
See above.


Countries like China, which majority of power station are coal power station. Regardless of EV or not, fossil fuels were burnt anyway.

Also Telus still uses same component as traditional combustion car, like seats, tires etc. Where do you think rubber and plastic come from? Fissile fuel. It is not like human won't need fossils fuel when EV become a thing.

Also, i highly doubt EV will be the mainstream by 2021. Unless there is revolution on battery technology, people will opt in for combustion engine. I will not buy EV if the range is not near where I get from combustion engine (my Corrola gets around 650km range. Good luck on getting these rang with EV).

Also price will be the factor. EV is still too expensive. I highly doubt it will be significantly cheaper.

Really. It is not like all the sudden EV will make our sky bluer. People will suddenly stop relying on fossil fuel and our manufacturing processes will still harm the environment. Unless we complete stop using anything that is made using fossil fuel and fossil fuel by products, I don't think EV will do much.
[doublepost=1471435009][/doublepost]
Maybe someday the airline will have no pilots.

And stop using combustion engine. Because by 2021, people will hate combustion engine.

I still don't trust fully automated driving or piloting. It is like accident waiting to happen. I still believe human intervation is need sometime, when AI failed (and you know AI or any software will have bugs and will fail sometime). When AI failed, what do you do when there is no human?

There are so many factor involving airplan. Temperatures changes, weather. Anything little thing, like ice blocking censor will cause AI misjudgment. When AI do that, accident will happen.
 
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WBRacing

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I used to work closely with some of Ford NA R&D and their (at least then) bloated management structure that would procrastinate over every single decision, coupled with a crippling amount of bureaucracy means that I would be impressed if they make it happen by 2031, let alone 2021. Unless they simply buy Tesla...
 
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Piggie

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Feb 23, 2010
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Humans being stupid, playing games, messing around I predict will cause a LOT of headaches for autonomous cars.
Even if they worked 100% perfect today, we'd be having problems.
 
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miknos

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For 2030 Ill create a space shuttle that I can control using my mind.

Thats an empty statement by Ford. For what I know, they're behind other brands and we haven't seen ANY engineering by them at all.
 
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Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
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Let's try this for starters.

Imagine TODAY that teenagers, and/or those who are 'out on the town for a good time at the weekend' know that cars will always stop for them. You walk out into the road, the car/s will stop.

Just imagine this single aspect alone and what it could lead to.
 
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TallManNY

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Nov 5, 2007
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Can't even begin to explain how annoying these kind of posts are.

Everybody knows, that electric vehicles are not significantly cleaner than ICE vehicles because of of many reasons like manufacturing, toxic battery acids, energy production and so on.

Don't overexaggerate so much.

I do not know that. Because in fact the electric cars being made today are significantly cleaner than a ICE; especially if the person buying them puts a lot of miles on their car. And in 2022 the electric cars will be even cleaner because of better manufacturing and because the energy source of that electricity is going to significantly cleaner.

But original posters point was silly. Of course Ford is going to be making electric vehicles in 2022. Electric vehicles are going to be the norm by then. It is a combination of saving on gas, environmental good feelings and performance that will drive this. In 2022 electric cars are going to make up most sales in the U.S. That may seem impossible now, but the tech is at that turning point. And the tech that looks somewhat compelling in 2017 is just going to get radically better and radically cheaper by 2022. That is just what tech does as it ramps up in manufacturing scale.
 
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oneMadRssn

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Sep 8, 2011
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Can't even begin to explain how annoying these kind of posts are.

Everybody knows, that electric vehicles are not significantly cleaner than ICE vehicles because of of many reasons like manufacturing, toxic battery acids, energy production and so on.

Don't overexaggerate so much.

It's about potential. ICE vehicles are over 100x cleaner than they were 80 years ago, but we have pretty much reached peak clean when it comes to ICE. Decades of research has made the technology as clean as can be, but everything has limits. Indeed, the only thing that has made significantly cleaner lately is by adding electric motors and large batteries in a hybrid drive system. Mazda with Ford have pushed pure ICEs as far as they can go at this point, every other car company has embraced alternative technologies.

On the flip side, we are just getting started with clean energy production and clean battery manufacturing. There is a long way to go, but the potential for cleaner transportation is much higher with EVs. Coal power plants all over the country are shutting down, coal mining is on a major decline. Solar and wind farms are being built all over (not as fast as I would like, but still moving forward), in addition to hydro and others. Tesla is investing heavily in battery manufacturing that produces less waste and requires less fuel to ship; dozens of other companies are researching battery technology that is recyclable. We're in the first decade of a long journey.

If improvements are made with EV vehicles similar to the improvements that ICE vehicles got over the past 80+ years, EV will be very clean. However, research currently suggests that EV vehicles will actually see faster improvements, and the entire potential is a lot deeper.

Illustratively, perhaps it's better to compare a 1932 Ford V8 Cabriolet to a Ford Focus EV. In terms of lifecycle of propulsion technology, they're at about the same point. Which of those is cleaner?
 
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SandboxGeneral

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Ford Motor Company has announced its plans to build a fleet of fully automated driverless vehicles for commercial ride-sharing by 2021

That sounds like quite an ambitious goal they've set for themselves, especially considering they want it to be fully automated with no driver input.

Ford said it would invest in "Level 4" autonomy, referring to standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The levels represent the degree of autonomous sophistication, with Level 4 being "high automation", meaning the car is able to drive unmonitored in a specific use case - a city area, in Ford's vision, for instance.

Nair said the company wasn't willing to let drivers take control from a level two or three vehicle at a moment's notice, citing safety concerns. "We don't yet know how to manage hand over back to the driver and have him engage and have him situationally aware, and be able to do that in a safe aware manner," he said, without mentioning Tesla's recent troubles.

I suppose if they're going to lofty goals, making a fully automated car work in city traffic would be the toughest challenge to overcome and just about any other driving situation would be easier to deal with.

It looks like Ford is saying go big or go home.
 
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nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,187
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Every technology needs early adopters, so keep buying these EV vehicles. We are still 10+ years away from making them cost effective, in spite of the marketing. They are not better until they are cost effective (and I mean lifetime cost). We don't have the raw materials to continue to make batteries if EV's become mainstream. Everyone in the EV business is hoping for a technology breakthrough. But today that breakthrough does not exist as evidence of Tesla's failure to meet most goals.

Tesla will never, in the near term, be able to meet the battery replacement cost goals they are marketing. So please keep in mind that in 4 to 6 years you will be spending $10,000 to $18,000 for new batteries. That buys a lot of gas and makes the car worthless when the batteries are in need of replacement. Also keep in mind that batteries deteriorate slowly starting from the first day you drive the EV off the lot, so performance and driving distance decline over time. It remains to be seen what normal users will view after owning EVs for long term.
 
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theluggage

macrumors 603
Jul 29, 2011
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Everybody knows, that electric vehicles are not significantly cleaner than ICE vehicles because of of many reasons like manufacturing, toxic battery acids, energy production and so on.

Everybody knows that any sentence beginning "Everybody knows" is probably wrong. Er, hold on...

For starters, whatever the "overall" lifetime emissions of EVs are, they don't pump out nasty gasses and particulates at street level (unless you insist on doing donuts), so even if they don't cure global warming they'll make our cities much nicer places to breathe in.

The only "nasty toxic stuff" in EVs that isn't also present in ICE vehicles is in (or is used to produce) things like loads of copper wire in coils and the lithium ion batteries - all of which is sufficiently valuable to make it worth re-using & recycling. The only reason that it would end up in the environment is if you don't read that disclaimer about autopilot mode...

True - if you charge your EV from electricity generated from fossil fuels then they ultimately burn fossil fuels but if you have access to sustainably produced electricity, they can use it (unlike ICEs). In many places, you can choose to pay a bit extra for a "green" energy tariff. Telsa are working on solar panels and home storage batteries - so many people will be able to generate at least part of their own needs from solar.

As to whether it is more efficient to refine gasoline, transport it around the world and burn it in an ICE vs burn coal or gas at a big centralised powers station, distribute it by cable and charge a battery... well, unfortunately anybody who has the necessary knowledge and access to data to work that out seems to have a pro- or con- EV agenda, and its far to easy to be selective, so its hard to know who to believe.

Oh, and by all accounts, EVs are also very nice to drive...
 
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HEK

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Sep 24, 2013
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Reports surfaced that Ford will be offering several unusual options with their driverless vehicles. The most innovative will be the inflatable dummy driver expected to mimic the likeness of Arab uber and lyft drivers. When the driverless car is summoned by the uber app the dummy will inflate from a seat pouch. This should help the riding public in making the transition to fully driverless vehicles. The added inflatable passenger will also be available to allow driverless cars to use the HOV lanes when driving to the next live human pickup.

Uber is planning on instructing their current human drivers to mimic the unresponsiveness of the inflatable dummy such that the transition should be seemless. In other news Ford plans on introducing driverless police vehicles specifically designed to pull over driverless cars. Ford software engineers are currently trying to figure out exactly what the interaction between the two driverless vehicles should be. Sending the ticket directly to Ford or Uber is being explored.
 
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MacsRgr8

macrumors 604
Sep 8, 2002
7,876
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No energy will ever come free.

But, having an electric engine in the car is the future. It's quieter, longer lasting and easier managed.
A world being far less dependant on oil, would be much better anymay...

But cars and the pollution:

Electric cars on batteries? >> They don't eliminate the problem, they move the problem by having to use batteries (think bout the manufacturing of the batteries, the charging of the batteries, and finally the disposal of the batteries).

How about the source of electric power then, as burning fossil fuels to create the needed electric power is moving the polution-problem...

Windmills? >> How many do you need to power a city? Is there enough open space on land?

Solar power? >> Same, how much needed to power a major city? Especially if all the residents have electric cars.

Nuclear power? >> Seems closest to providing the solution... but... accidents can happen....

A hydrogen fuel-cell? >> Seems perfect... but, hey.. don't want to have a hydro-bom accident in my car...

All-in-all, IMHO, the question is how to get all cars drive the equivalent milage that's 10x, maybe 100x more efficient than now.
Electric cars do free up the pollution inside major cities, but the power plants now used will become more polluting.
What is better?

Having self-driving cars which may create "trains" when following the same road might help.
Letting a computer decide what is the most energy-efficient way of moving between two places, combined with the knowledge of the movement of other commuters might help more than we can imagine now.

Oh, and... of course... forget F1, IndyCar, NASCAR, DTM and Drag Races, etc. ;)
 
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SvP

macrumors 6502
Mar 31, 2009
463
121
Can't even begin to explain how annoying these kind of posts are.
Everybody knows, that electric vehicles are not significantly cleaner than ICE vehicles because of of many reasons like manufacturing, toxic battery acids, energy production and so on.
Don't overexaggerate so much.
He's not: production energy can be green, recycling batteries is a necessity: the environmental impact is measurable, and evident. ICE cars spew out the gasses right outside my door and i'd be very comfortable just making the whole concept illegal.
 
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CFreymarc

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Sep 4, 2009
3,969
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It's the future. Our grandchildren will look back in quizzical incredulity and ask: "wait, all cars had to be driven by a person?"

I say that on the assumption that we're not going to have a Planet of the Apes scenario in 60 years, and Charlton Heston won't be roaming the desert outskirts with his top off.
The whole self driving car concept could come crashing down in a series of consumer liability lawsuits.

Keep in mind that not every technical innovation kept with the market. Many phased out as a fad or the consumer harm of the product outweighed the benefit.
 
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