Ford's Fields says connectivity is the key to finding workable transportation solutions (Photo: Ford Motor)
Ford Motor wants to bring autonomous cars to the mass market but isn't in a hurry to be the first to sell aÂ driverless vehicle.
"Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road,” Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields said in a keynote address at the annual international CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas. “Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers’ lives."
Premium carmakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes have all provided high-profile insights into their autonomous-driving technology and many car brands have pledged to start selling road-ready autonomous vehicles before the end of the decade.
At CES, Ford focused on the availability today of many of the features that will create the ability for a car to drive itself. These systems, the carmaker said, include lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and active park assist. Another feature is traffic jam assist, which is coming.
In his keynote, Fields presented Ford's vision of how the auto industry can solve the world's growing transportation problems by adopting a high-tech approach. He announced a "Ford Smart Mobility" planÂ that will use stepped-up innovation to improve the connectivity, mobility and autonomy of Ford vehicles.
“We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company," Fields said, adding that the company's goal was "to change the way the world moves," similar to what Ford founder Henry Ford accomplished more than 100 years ago.
At CES, where Ford also demonstrated its new Sync 3 connectivity system, Fields emphasisedÂ the power of connected cars. “We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute,” he said.
Ford's product development chief, Raj Nair, said todays' vehicles are already defined by a range of high-tech driver-assistance features. “We’re already manufacturing and selling semi-autonomous vehicles that use software and sensors to steer into both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, adjust speed based on traffic flow or apply the brakes in an emergency," he said.
Nair also pledged that "there will be a Ford autonomous vehicle in the future, and we take putting one on the road very seriously.”