Ford Making ‘Great Progress’ on Autonomous Vehicles

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No plans announced yet for autonomous Ford trucks; could they come soon?

Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer told the Detroit Free Press on July 1 that Ford is making “great progress” toward its first fully autonomous car. We suspect that automated trucks might not be far behind.

Ken Washington told the newspaper that the Motor Company’s partnership with Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company has made strides toward the company’s 2021 goal. Google Car software engineer Bryan Salesky and Uber engineer Peter Rander cofounded Argo AI last year. They are developing the software and robotics element of the project while Ford works on the systems integration aspect.

Ford deemed Ken Washington the company’s chief technology officer in May, which gives him oversight of the “autonomous vehicle efforts.” Such phrase shows up as many times in the original story, as “mobility” does at recent auto shows. It suggests that Ford already considers the project beyond the scope of passenger cars.

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To date, the auto maker has yet to mention any autonomous vehicle rollouts for personal-use, passenger trucks. However, the increasing popularity of SUVs and the autonomy gains produce a fairly obvious game of connect-the-dots. Ford currently employs the Fusion for most of their autonomous-vehicle testing and publicity. However, we’ll hazard a guess that the Explorer, Escape, and Expedition are being considered—if not more—for autonomous-equipment fitment at this point.

As for Ford pickup trucks, some analysts suggest that long-haul trucking may see the first broadly used fleet of autonomous vehicles. That may not soon apply to smaller work pickup trucks like the F-150. However, should autonomous over-the-road trucking prove efficient, we wonder if the Blue Oval might consider autonomous vehicles for fleet sales?

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Eric Rood is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and LS1Tech, among other auto sites.

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