Ford is still a long way from bringing a model equipped with fully self-driving technology to market. However, the brand will focus its efforts on improving levels 2 and 3 for future releases.
What will be the next step for the automotive industry? Once electrification has taken over the bulk of the market, all the gurus in the sector suggest that the next technological adoption will be fully autonomous driving. However, in recent statements released by Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, he declared himself not very optimistic about this technology, since he sees it “very far away” and does not expect it to be a reality in the short term.
Many brands are now putting a huge investment into Level 4 autonomous technology, which is seen as the first step in fully automated people transportation. There is an even more advanced Level 5 in which humans will not have any interaction with the vehicle in any of its aspects, nor will it perform its electrical recharging, which will be carried out when necessary with total autonomy.
However, during the announcement of Ford’s financial results for the third quarter, the top manager of the American house, Jim Farley, was asked about the possible arrival of a fully autonomous Ford in the company’s fleet, to which the CEO admitted that “while we believe that fully autonomous driving is possible, this will not be something that happens any time soon”. This statement has been a collapse of the expectations of some investors who expected the arrival of a vehicle with this technology soon.
“We are optimistic about the future of L4 ADAS but fully autonomous, cost-effective vehicles at scale are a long way off,” Farley stated. This has not been the only bucket of cold water poured on this technology lately. In 2017, Ford invested in the company Argo AI, a company dedicated to autonomous driving research, which was later also joined by Volkswagen with the hope of putting a vehicle with this technology on the market in 2021, something that was not has happened.
The latest information received about Argo AI is that both Ford and Volkswagen will cease their investments in this company, which will be doomed to closure. However, Ford has announced that it will hire several of its engineers to continue working on this technology internally.
For now, Ford offers autonomous technology L2 + and L3 (Level 2 + and Level 3) in some of its models, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which has the so-called BlueCruise for certain environments (especially in the United States). With the new signing of specialized engineers by the blue oval company, this is expected to spread to other markets more prominently, including Europe.
Ford’s investment in Level 4 autonomous driving research so far will be used to substantially improve potential gaps in its current L2+ and L3 technology, so drivers gain the confidence of not having to maintain eyes on the road, as well as generate greater safety on the wheel.
Farley himself assures that autonomous driving could attract a generous number of customers to the company, as well as an outstanding economic amount. “When I see the pricing power for autonomous driving, not just in Tesla, but in all of us… It seems like the first software we could ship to a car that customers are willing to pay big bucks for,” he said. CEO.
Although this does not mean a cancellation of the autonomous driving project for future Ford vehicles, it does present a stoppage or slowdown in its development. As an alternative, the firm’s next models will feature improved L2+ and L3 technology.