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22 August 2017

Ford’s vision for self-driving cars that pick up passengers and deliver packages

A hood-mounted camera on the Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle on display at CES 2017.
A hood-mounted camera on the Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle on display at CES 2017.

Image: MIKE NELSON/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Why own car when you can shop online and hail a Lyft when you need a ride?
 
Instead of freaking out, Ford is preparing for the future with a self-driving car designed for carrying both packages and passengers. Previously, the company promised a fully autonomous car for ride-sharing by 2021

“We’re developing self-driving technology because the world is changing rapidly,” Sherif Marakby, the company’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, wrote in a Medium post Tuesday morning.

“For many people who live in large cities, owning a car is no longer a viable choice.”

Marakby further opened about Ford’s plans to develop self-driving cars. 

“We plan to develop and manufacture self-driving vehicles at scale, deployed in cooperation with multiple partners, and with a customer experience based on human-centered design principles,” he wrote. 

Marakby said the goal is to develop a vehicle that not only ensures the comfort of passengers, but is also capable of transporting packages. While it will take some development of new ideas, Marakby said it’s not all new territory. 

“Our team has decades of experience developing and manufacturing vehicles that serve commercial operations such as taxi and delivery businesses. That extensive experience and those existing relationships are playing an integral part in our self-driving effort. We are entering relationships with a deep understanding of a partner’s needs and desire for a vehicle that has the capability to fulfill many use cases and the durability to maximize operation time,” he wrote.

Marakby goes on to reference the fact that Ford was the first company to get a hybrid automobile on the road in the United States in 2004, and that the company has since built on improving the technology. 

He added that the company’s Greenfield Labs in Palo Alto, California, is looking at how to approach a human-centered design. 

“One thing is certain,” he wrote. “Self-driving technology will change the way business is done.”

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