Driverless Car: Autonomous Vehicles Could Be Here By 2021 As Ford Takes On Tesla, Apple, Google

The driverless car may be about to have competition. Ford is now working on their own autonomous car and forcing Tesla to “step it up” if they want to be first.

The car manufacturer founded as the first to go into mass production now has a definitive release date for their first self-driving car. However, don’t expect to be hopping over to your Ford dealer to grab one until at least 2021. Five years from now, we might have passenger-only vehicles as the technology gets closer to reality.

Of course, the 3-D printed Olli already exists on the streets of Maryland outside Washington, D.C., meaning that we already have the technology. The real question is how safe it is.

There is a dilemma behind driverless cars, as the artificial intelligence behind the technology is currently working under the scenario of the ultimate decision. They may be forced, in a life or death situation, to kill the passenger if the pedestrians outside outnumber them and the autonomous car can’t avoid it.

Another possible issue arises between human intelligence and artificial intelligence. Ford’s intended model will allegedly forgo the steering wheel and pedals, says Ford chief executive Mark Fields via the New York Times.

“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal. If someone had told you 10 years ago, or even five years ago, that the C.E.O. of a major automaker American car company is going to be announcing the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles, they would have been called crazy or nuts or both.”

This could spell an insurance headache, as the fault of potential accidents may very well fall on a robot. The instant you take away the driver, you take away the responsibility, and when deaths occur, the best solution would be to update the AI controls while the deaths go unpunished. For now, Ford is looking into making their autonomous cars strictly for public transportation and package delivery.

Uber, Google, and Apple are also potential competitors in the driverless car hailing business, the former having seen definite problems with human drivers.

Of course Back to the Future fans are still waiting for flying cars, and someone is working on that too. It’s called the Terrafugia TF-X, and it raises even more legal concerns over regulation.

Ford says they have already acquired an Israeli company known as Saips, known for its technology centering on sensors that help the driverless car “see” where it’s going. Does this mean it will drive defensively if a drunk driver approaches from the oncoming lane? It’s unknown for now.

One of the biggest competitors for the autonomous car, being electrical at its roots, is the oil industry. They are a fierce competitor with a lot of money and very unlikely to give up on gas powered engines.

Michelle Krebs, an analyst with AutoTrader, says it’s unknown how Ford will move forward with their plan to launch a ride-hailing service. They don’t have a partner in that industry like GM does with Lyft.

Brian Johnson, another analyst with Barclays, says that if Ford decides to continue with this new direction and autonomous cars take over, it could mean a 40 percent drop in car sales. This is something oil companies are not going to be happy about. Johnson also stated that it’s unclear how Ford and other manufacturers would make money with driverless cars. A brand new car often runs the consumer around $20,000 and up, and using a car as a taxi wouldn’t earn anywhere near that as fast.

[Image via riopatuca/]