Ford targeting 2021 launch for self-driving car, potentially going head to head with Apple

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2016
At a special event on Tuesday, Ford revealed plans to have a fully self-driving car on the roads in 2021, the same year as Apple's own "Project Titan" is expected to debut.

A Ford testbed car.
A Ford testbed car.


The Ford vehicle will be built "specifically for ride sharing and ride hailing," Engadget quoted CEO Mark Fields as saying. The company will continue to offer a fleet of human-driven vehicles for sale -- Fields nevertheless claimed that the change will be as important as the assembly line, and that Ford is "no longer just an auto company," but also a "mobility" business.

CTO Raj Nair noted that Ford is planning to skip the evolutionary approach favored by rivals like Tesla, which have adopted "driver assist" features as an intermediate step. In fact today's plan was originally conceived four years ago, but Ford's VP of research and advanced engineering, Ken Washington, commented that the company found a gradual approach wasn't going to work.

To meet the 2021 goal, Ford will be tripling its development fleet by the end of 2016, and do so again next year. It's also investing $75 million into Velodyne, a LIDAR systems maker, and in 2017 will double the number of researchers it has in Silicon Valley from 130 to 260.

As for how people might hail the self-driving car, Fields suggested that Ford could partner with other companies but might also build something on its own.

The so-called "Apple Car" was originally rumored to be coming in 2019 or 2020, but was reportedly delayed due to setbacks, such as the departure of project leader Steve Zadesky.

Virtually nothing is known about the car's features, but at one point it was rumored that the first model might not be self-driving. To compete with the likes of Ford, Apple may have no choice but to aim for full automation.

It's not even certain that the vehicle will be sold to the public. Theoretically Apple could take the ridesharing route, which might partly explain its $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing.
gregg thurman
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    I would think of self-fueling and self maintaining first. Driving is a pleasure - not menace. If I want self-driving car I will take bus.
    TurboPGTrealjustinlong
  • Reply 2 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,447member
    Ride sharing and ride hailing? Talk to any cab driver or Uber driver about what goes on in the back seat. Now imagine a driverless cab with no supervision. Unless there are continually monitored security cameras inside these vehicles I predict epic fail. Would you get into one when the last fare took a dump on the floor?
    edited August 2016 repressthistopper24hours
  • Reply 3 of 37
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,273member
    sog35 said:
    Apple is so going to destroy the traditional auto companies.


    How exactly?
    repressthis
  • Reply 4 of 37
    I would think of self-fueling and self maintaining first. Driving is a pleasure - not menace. If I want self-driving car I will take bus.
    Driving out of town is a pleasure, driving in San Francisco is worse than a menace.
    gregg thurmanlordjohnwhorfinlolliverjony0repressthisnolamacguy
  • Reply 5 of 37
    And like magic the nattering nabobs of negativity appear from behind the curtain..  Some people will resist change until their last dying breath, never accepting shifts in how things are done.

    I'm currently restoring a 1947 Packard factory built Taxi (one of about 1800).  Its amazing the things done to the back seat area that make the ride enjoyable, durable and EASY to clean.

    The nattering nabobs are quick to expose the negatives without ever examining the positives or quantifying the rate of negative occurrences.  That's because they are intellectually lazy, and afraid that someone else will succeed doing what they fear trying to do themselves.
    lolliverrepressthisnolamacguypalomine
  • Reply 6 of 37
    sog35 said:
    How exactly?
    Just look at how horrible Auto companies enterainment systems are. How horrible their software is. 
    Those systems were originally Microsoft's SYNC system, which have almost entirely been replaced with something else.  Something that actually works.
    repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 37

    lkrupp said:
    Ride sharing and ride hailing? Talk to any cab driver or Uber driver about what goes on in the back seat. Now imagine a driverless cab with no supervision. Unless there are continually monitored security cameras inside these vehicles I predict epic fail. Would you get into one when the last fare took a dump on the floor?
    Ah, here's another worst case advocate.  I'm legally blind and have spoken to several Uber drivers (my primary mode of municipal transport) where I live (Spokane, WA), in Phoenix, AZ and Nantucket, MA.  The vast, overwhelming percentage of the types of negative occurrences that you describe occur between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM in the morning.  Even then, those negative occurrences are rare.
    repressthis
  • Reply 8 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,447member
    sog35 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Ride sharing and ride hailing? Talk to any cab driver or Uber driver about what goes on in the back seat. Now imagine a driverless cab with no supervision. Unless there are continually monitored security cameras inside these vehicles I predict epic fail. Would you get into one when the last fare took a dump on the floor?
    you seriously think a large volume of people will be taking a dump in a self driving taxi? LOL
    Drunks do stupid stuff. And there are a LOT of drunks out there on the weekends.
    repressthisSpamSandwich
  • Reply 9 of 37
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    sog35 said:
    How exactly?
    Just look at how horrible Auto companies enterainment systems are. How horrible their software is. 
    There's a lot more to a car than the infotainment system. I think it will be easier for traditional auto companies to build better infotainment systems than it will be for Apple to build a car.
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 37
    Wow. Velodyne is getting a $75 million investment. I wonder what that means for the rest of us who are currently using HDL LiDAR heads for the mobile mapping industry. May have to take Quanergy up on their invitation to evaluate their sensor. There is also Tyto, Facet, and others to look at.
    patchythepiraterepressthis
  • Reply 11 of 37
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    rogifan_new said:

    There's a lot more to a car than the infotainment system. I think it will be easier for traditional auto companies to build better infotainment systems than it will be for Apple to build a car.
    There are literally many thousands of people who know how to build autos and robotic assembly factories. Also countless sub contracted component suppliers, etc. however there are only a handful of companies that know how to build artificial intelligence and 3D mapping data driven software necessary for an autonomous vehicles. Personally, I think they should make Siri into a chatty physical robot that mimics an actual taxi driver sort of like Johnny cab in Blade Runner.
    lolliverbadmonk
  • Reply 12 of 37
    More Velodyne News. http://blog.lidarnews.com/baidu-invests-velodyne/#respond When it rains, it pours. Know the owner well. He is a good guy. I am happy for him.
    repressthis
  • Reply 13 of 37
    sog35 said:
    Just look at how horrible Auto companies enterainment systems are. How horrible their software is. 
    Those systems were originally Microsoft's SYNC system, which have almost entirely been replaced with something else.  Something that actually works.
    Yep, Ford built Sync 3 on top of Blackberry's QNX embedded system. Much more stable. They also support CarPlay and Android Auto across the lineup, unlike most makers. 
    repressthis
  • Reply 14 of 37
    It's pretty clear at this point that Apple Maps is going to blow everyone away. Apple will leap-frog Betabet's mapping service, and be miles ahead of all the others.

    On top of that Apple will have a superior (possibly significantly superior) vehicle to go with it, which will be designed to take full advangage of Apple Maps features.
    repressthis
  • Reply 15 of 37
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 552member
    sog35 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Ride sharing and ride hailing? Talk to any cab driver or Uber driver about what goes on in the back seat. Now imagine a driverless cab with no supervision. Unless there are continually monitored security cameras inside these vehicles I predict epic fail. Would you get into one when the last fare took a dump on the floor?
    you seriously think a large volume of people will be taking a dump in a self driving taxi? LOL
    Yes. Absolutely. Just like valets taking modern Corvettes out for a joy ride and getting caught by the onboard cameras. It will absolutely happen, particularly because without a driver, jerks will think it is consequence-free.
    repressthis
  • Reply 16 of 37
    One thing is for sure: self driving cars are definitely in our future, and probably much sooner than we think.
    As far as driving being a pleasure... maybe where you live, but my daily commute is one hour each way on a congested freeway, and I can't think of a single car that would make this drive enjoyable -- whereas a self driving car would free up two hours each day to relax, watch TV, read, work... or poop in the backseat!
    edited August 2016 lolliverroundaboutnowrepressthisbadmonk
  • Reply 17 of 37
    I would think of self-fueling and self maintaining first. Driving is a pleasure - not menace. If I want self-driving car I will take bus.
    well, then go for it... not for me... Because the bus doesn't stop at my door or at the nearest parking spot at the office/mall.

    And for me with my crazy commute (80 miles*), where 'the bus' costs $40 each way 4 days a week, 48 weeks a year...  and still require me to have a car for local transit, and take a $20 cab ride from it's 'ride share lot' yeah, an $80,000 self driving car would pay for itself in <2 years.

    (*my 2003 Accord costs me $5000 a year now or about $26/day, and I lose 2.5 hours of productive time, [client] billable at $100/hour)

    lolliverroundaboutnowrepressthis
  • Reply 18 of 37
    Those systems were originally Microsoft's SYNC system, which have almost entirely been replaced with something else.  Something that actually works.
    Yep, Ford built Sync 3 on top of Blackberry's QNX embedded system. Much more stable. They also support CarPlay and Android Auto across the lineup, unlike most makers. 
    and who did Apple Hire... the founder of QNX.  

    And QNX is overkill for sound/audio/entertainment systems.   It's supposed to be for real time operations... like self-driving cars (where you literally can't be interrupt locked out of your collision avoidance code, when the brake lights in front of you light up)
    repressthis
  • Reply 19 of 37
    sog35 said:
    Just look at how horrible Auto companies enterainment systems are. How horrible their software is. 
    There's a lot more to a car than the infotainment system. I think it will be easier for traditional auto companies to build better infotainment systems than it will be for Apple to build a car.
    I don't think that.  MOST of a traditional car company is marketing and product development... Something Apple does very well.   the next most important part of car companies are the assembly lines.  Again, Apple has dealt with quality assembly at a scale 100X more than any car company.   Apple has a huge lead in User Experience.   So now it comes down to engineering talent.  That can be bought.

    remember the quote
    “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
    What's different now?
    repressthisnolamacguybadmonk
  • Reply 20 of 37
    Maybe Ford’s self-driving HDTV will go head to head with Apple’s, too.
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