Ever since Mark Fields was ousted as CEO of Ford, Jim Hackett has held the reins to a company looking to offer autonomous cars in high volumes by 2021. At Ford's City of Tomorrow symposium, Hackett outlined his vision for how transportation will look in the future, and it doesn't involve a robot takeover by autonomous cars.
Hackett says automated tech will be phased in to ease parking and other challengers surrounding vehicle access around cities. But self-driving cars won't control everything. "When you paint the robots as perfect and humans as imperfect, we've made a big mistake," Hackett said, reports Automotive News. "We don't need the robot to get around."
Many carmakers have painted a picture that automated taxis and otheralternative modes of transportation will soon dominate, eliminating the need for private vehicles. But apparently Hackett doesn't see it the same way.
"I don't believe there's going to be a big degradation of sales as the cities become less congested," Hackett said at the event, reports The Detroit News. "It's probably going to give people more options to keep their cars, because they can choose to use them in ways that they couldn't before."
While Fields was in charge of Ford, the automaker announced that its self-driving cars bound for 2021 would be specifically designed for ride sharing services. However, as The Detroit News reports, Hackett wants to leave options on the table, letting the market decide what is best. "The tension is the evolution of the technology is progressing really well," he said. "The markets will develop independentlyI want choices." Meanwhile, Ford self-driving cars are still on track to arrive by 2021.
As we reported earlier, Ford wants its autonomous vehicles to achieve a Level 4 rating as defined by SAE. This is one step below Level 5, which offers complete autonomy in every driving scenario. Ford has been working hard to expand its Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California, and double the size of the team there. An interesting study by Navigant Research put Ford at the top of the list of leaders in autonomous driving technologies. But it's far from the only company working on such features. As just one example, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, and Intel have partnered up on a common autonomous platform the industry can use to create self-driving vehicles.