Autonomous cars might be road ready in less than five years, but it will take another decade before the general public are allowed to buy them, according to Ford’s head of research, Ken Washington.
The comment adds to the growing fear that automakers will not sell autonomous vehicles to customers, instead relying on ride-sharing and shuttle services. There are rumors that Ford will use its FordPass service for ride-sharing or launch a new platform soon.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said customers will be able to purchase autonomous cars by 2025, making Washington’s new estimate of 2026 to 2031 rather conservative.
“It’s really hard to guess and predict the pace of the technology,” said Washington at SAE WCX World Congress Experience. “Our current view is the adoption rates will be relatively gradual.”
Still skipping Level 3 autonomy
Ford has already confirmed it will skip Level 3 autonomy, the mid-level between full human and driverless control. That was seen by some as a decision to avoid customers taking control of the vehicle. It will instead shoot for Level 5, which would revoke all human control.
The company stepped up its investment in the self-driving industry last month with the acquisition for Argo AI for $1 billion, to be paid over five years. It looked like a major acquisition of talent from Ford, to keep up with Google, Tesla, and other tech firms.
At the event, Washington insisted that the auto-industry are not behind when it comes to autonomous tech innovation. He also said that tech firms are now looking for auto partnerships, to “bring it home.”