Ford Motor plans to start its self-driving vehicle business in 2022 with vehicles based on the Escape Hybrid Crossover.
Ford Motor plans to start its self-driving dealership business in 2022 with vehicles based on the Ford Escape Hybrid Crossover, the company said Tuesday.
The vehicles are the automaker's fourth generation self-driving test vehicles in collaboration with Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup. Ford and German automaker Volkswagen AG shared an 80% majority stake in the company earlier this year.
Ford said the vehicles will begin testing this month along with its current fleet of around 100 autonomous test vehicles based on the Fusion hybrid sedan, which the company no longer produces.
According to John Davis, chief engineer of Ford's autonomous vehicle subsidiary, next-generation vehicles will incorporate "launch-intent" technologies necessary to support commercialization.
"With our fourth generation test vehicle, we have everything we need from a vehicle to maintain our self-driving service," wrote Davis in a Tuesday article on Medium
The upgrades include higher resolution cameras, more powerful radar sensors, and more advanced lidar technology that uses lasers to map the environment.
Ford plans to integrate the new vehicles into test fleets in Austin, Texas. Detroit; Miami; Palo Alto, California; Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
Ford initially planned to open a self-driving commercial vehicle business in 2021 but delayed it until 2022 due to delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, plans were announced for the commercial fleet to use a purpose-built autonomous vehicle with no manual controls such as a steering wheel and pedals.
A Ford spokesman confirmed Tuesday that these plans will remain intact but will be based on multiple factors including safety, regulations and community acceptance of self-driving vehicles.