If there’s an emerging trend in vehicle technology, you can bet Ford is on the leading edge of it. Whether it’s engine technologies, hybrid vehicles, or the latest in smart features, Ford may not get to it first, but it always strives to do it best. That includes into fields where we really take a leap into the future of the automotive experience—with autonomous vehicle technology.
Driving For You
There are currently six levels of automation recognized by SAE International. Most vehicles on the road would qualify at Level 0, No Automation. Such vehicles require a human driver behind the wheel at all times. This scale rises to a hypothetical Level 5, where the vehicle is classified as Fully Automated. To qualify, such a vehicle must be capable of driving without the aid of a human in any environment, and under any conditions. Suffice to say, it’s a hard threshold to meet.
The goal of Ford Smart Mobility is simple; to create a vehicle which can operate itself without the use of a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal, within a pre-defined geographical area. This would classify the vehicle at SEA Level 4, or High Automation. Ford wants to produce this vehicle for commercial use, ideally to be part of a ride sharing or ride-hailing service—and Ford doesn’t mean a few such vehicles in select cities. The goal is to roll out a massive fleet of these vehicles and transform the driving landscape. By mass producing a SEA Level 4 commercial vehicle, Ford would have the most advanced autonomous vehicle on the market.
Such a breakthrough would also position Ford as a global leader in autonomous vehicle technology.
Looking Toward 2021
The goal of mass producing a SEA Level 4 autonomous commercial vehicle isn’t long term—Ford is on course to realize that goal by 2021!
This is thanks, in part, to the research and development assistance Ford has received from collaborations with companies specializing in fields such as 3-D mapping, cameras, sensors, and advanced algorithms. Companies such as Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC and Civil Maps have all been instrumental in helping Ford make big strides toward this ambitious goal.
While Ford’s plan currently focus on rolling out thousands of autonomous commercial vehicles, there is no word on when they may be available for personal use. Here in Alberta, the government started working out new diving guidelines for autonomous vehicles as far back as 2017, so when such vehicles began to appear in wide use, the province would be ready for them.
Are you ready for robot cars driving themselves and passengers around Edmonton? 2021 is only two short years away!