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Major manufacturers announce autonomous car targets

  Friday, 23 December 2016

Three major car manufacturers have announced their intention to develop autonomous cars.

Ford has decided to double the size of its autonomous vehicle research team, with the intention of having a high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle operational within a car sharing service by the year 2021.

The company is working alongside four start-ups to help enhance development in the area and has doubled its teams in both Silicon Valley and Palo Alto.

Mark Fields, president and CEO for Ford, said:

“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.”

“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people - not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”

The target for the vehicle is for it to be a Society of Automotive Engineers-rated level 4-capable vehicle without gas and brake pedals and without a steering wheel.  It is being designed with commercial mobility services – such as ride sharing or ride hailing – in mind.

Ford’s announcement came in the same week that Volvo and Uber announced they would be joining forces in order to work on a new £228 million project to develop the next-generation of driverless cars.

The agreement has been set out to allow Volvo to combine their vehicle expertise with Uber’s latest autonomous driving systems.  Both companies will use the same base car for upcoming stages of their driverless car development.

Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said:

“We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber.  This alliance places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”

The platform used for the new base vehicle will be the same used to construct the Volvo XC90, S90 saloon and V90 estate cars.

Travis Kalanick, chief executive for Uber, said:

“More than one million people die in car accidents every year.  These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone.  That’s why our partnership with Volvo is so important.  By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

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