Ford CEO: Self-driving cars may be on the road within four years

Ford CEO: Self-driving cars may be on the road within four years
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Ford’s CEO says self-driving cars could be on the road within the next four years.

Mark Fields told reporters on Wednesday that the widespread deployment of autonomous cars is dependent on the whether regulators are able to accommodate them, according to Re/code.

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His prediction, if it comes to pass, would beat Google’s projection that self-driving cars will be publicly available within five years. The head of Google’s autonomous vehicles program, Chris Urmson, has said he thinks that issues with regulators will not ultimately be what holds up progress in the high-profile sector.

“We don’t think there is a regulatory block,” Urmson said in January.

There has been a boom in the development of self-driving cars in recent years, as many traditional auto manufacturers and other tech companies followed Google’s lead.

General Motors, like Ford, is investing in research, as in Toyota. So is ride-hailing application Uber, which has built up a significant research staff in Pittsburgh focused on the project.

Fields indicated it was imperative for Ford to keep up with those developments — or be left behind.

“There will be winners and losers, and the industries that lose out ... will work hard to make sure this new framework doesn’t get implemented,” he said on Wednesday, according to USA Today. “We need to get ahead of it, or it’ll take forever.”

Still, self-driving cars have been subject to increasing scrutiny as more companies begin to test them on open roads. Google, in particular, was subject to demands from activists who wanted the company to release more details about accidents involving the vehicles. Earlier this year, Google started issuing monthly reports updating the public on the project and detailing accidents in which the cars were involved.