Ford announced it will plans to start testing its autonomous vehicles on European roads by next year as it ramps up its robot car strategy.
According to Digital Trends the U.S. car manufacturing goliath is moving ahead with European testing as it pursues its ambitious strategy to introduce fully autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing by 2021.
“It is important that we extend our testing to Europe,” said Ford of Europe’s manager for Automated Driving Thomas Lukaszewicz. “Rules of the road vary from country to country here, traffic signs and road layouts are different, and drivers are likely to share congested roads with cyclists.”
Testing will begin at Ford’s Engineering Center in Essex, U.K. After this, trials will be expanded to its Germany-based Research & Advanced Engineering facilities in Cologne and Aachen.
Ford indicated that the locations undertaking the testing were chosen because they are already familiarized with its self-driving technology.
Ford already self-driving in US
Ford is already busy testing its autonomous car technology in the U.S. The ambitious testing regime is to enable Ford to meet its five-year target of rolling out autonomous cars for ride-hailing services.
Ford hopes the European testing will allow the self-driving cars to be fully rolled out on the continent shortly after similar services are launched for consumers in America.
In its road testing, the car-maker has used Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles that are rigged up with a variety of cameras and sensors.
Meanwhile, Ford recently made strategic moves to strengthen its capabilities in the autonomous vehicle space.
It bought San Francisco-based ride-sharing shuttle service Chariot, which incorporated Ford Transit Connect vans to shuttle people around.
Ford also announced it is bringing GoBike, the company’s bike-sharing service, to the San Francisco Bay Area. It plans to have 7,000 bikes in SF by the end of 2018. Users will also be able to rent their bike on the FordPass platform, launching next year.