Ford to work on self-driving cars with taxi and delivery functionality

Car ownership is predicted to decline as self-driving cars hit the roads, with more people, especially in cities, opting for a taxi or shuttle. When that happens, Ford wants to be the company supplying taxi operators with vehicles.

In a blog post, Ford vice president of autonomous vehicles, Sherif Marakby, said the company is aiming to build a self-driving car that maximizes ‘utilization time’, while also evolving to the new needs of taxi operators and delivery services.

See Also: Ford patents removable wheel for self-driving vehicles

Ford makes a point that the new customer is not the individual, but a company. Instead of selling a car to a consumer, it is sold to Uber or Lyft and then used by hundreds of commuters every day.

We’re developing self-driving technology because the world is changing rapidly. For many people who live in large cities, owning a car is no longer a viable choice,” said Marakby.

“Ride sharing and hailing is on the rise, and shopping at malls is giving way to buying online, which is increasing package delivery services. Therefore, we’re building a business to capitalize on both of these trends. We plan to develop and manufacture self-driving vehicles at scale, deployed in cooperation with multiple partners, and with a customer experience based on human-centered design principles.”

Decades of experience gives an edge

The automaker has spent decades working with partners in the taxi and delivery industry, which it said gives it the edge on the competition. In the post, Marakby said the first self-driving cars to come out of Ford’s factories will be hybrids, due to their range advantages compared to electric.

Ford is also putting heavy emphasis on a “human centered design approach”, which is currently being researched at the company’s team in Palo Alto. It said it will work with partners to ensure that its self-driving cars are a force for good on the roads, instead of a disruptor.

The current goal is for a self-driving Ford by 2021, though the company’s head of research said it may be 2026 before customers can buy one of those vehicles.

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