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Ford unveils plan for driverless car by 2021

Ford unveils plan for driverless car by 2021
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Ford Motor Co. plans to build a fully autonomous vehicle for ride-hailing services by 2021, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The goal is to create a driverless car with no steering wheel or pedals that can navigate pre-determined areas.

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The vehicle will be specifically designed for commercial ride-hailing and on-demand taxi services.

The automaker did not indicate whether it plans to start its own ride-hailing service or partner with a company like Uber or Lyft.

“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,” said Mark Fields, president and chief executive officer of Ford.

“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.”

To fortify its efforts, Ford is working with several autonomous technology start-ups, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its research and innovation center in Palo Alto.

One of those collaborations includes a $75 million investment in Velodyne, which supplies the LiDAR technology that enables self-driving cars to detect their surroundings.

The automaker is also increasing investment in areas such as advanced algorithms, 3-D mapping and radar and camera sensors.

Ford said it will “triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet to be the largest test fleet of any automaker — bringing the number to about 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan, with plans to triple it again next year.”