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Ford to Launch an Independent Driverless Fleet Network by 2021

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【Summary】By 2021 Ford Motor company plans to set up its self-driving taxi service at scale. The company aims to use its robo-taxi network to move both goods and passengers. Most of the vehicles will be custom built for the platform and Ford is not developing the technology to enter into a partnership with another third-party ride-hailing operator.

Manish Kharinta    Apr 21, 2018 11:45 AM PT
Ford to Launch an Independent Driverless Fleet Network by 2021
author: Manish Kharinta   

By 2021 Ford Motor Company plans to set up its self-driving taxi service at scale. The company aims to use its robo-taxi network to move both goods and passengers. Most of the vehicles will be custom built for the robo-taxi network and Ford is not developing the technology to enter into a partnership with another third-party ride-hailing operator. 

The vehicles will be constructed from ground up to serve in Ford's exclusive fleet. As of last year, the company has spent $1bn on Argo which is an AI start-up. With this investment, Ford aims to compete against the likes of Uber and Waymo and other competitors in the same space which includes Toyota and General Motors, who are developing their own versions of self-driving cars.

Recently, Ford has entered a partnership with Domino's Pizza to offer a trailing service in Miami. This will help in offering a driver-free delivery system which will help customers get discounts for walking up to the autonomous cars and picking up their food orders. 

It is possible that this service with its cost-cutting advantages will in time be a replacement of conventional automobile ownership in cities which have congested traffic conditions. Ford is determined to remove the human factor from its service even though other carmakers have made their doubts about the technology and safety concerns quite clear.

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Other car companies like Jaguar Land Rover Group and Volvo have joined hands with fleet companies like Waymo and Uber to offer them with vehicles which will incorporate their driverless technology. Juxtaposed to the British and Swedish automakers companies like Ford, GM and Renault-Nissan group are determined on establishing their own independent autonomous fleet service. 

Businesses are consulting their logistic divisions like company Postmates which manages logistics for Domino's into determining how the additional revenue generated by using a driverless delivery system as a cost-cutting advantage will be split to offer customers with better discounts. These consultations will also be responsible for deciding the charges consumers will have to pay to avail these services.

Also, in the works might be an autonomous hybrid Ford Transit van. The company has stated a vehicle to transport goods and passengers will be introduced by the year 2021. The vehicle will be designed from ground up to operate for long hours and will go on to run without a hitch for a period of as long as 20 hours at a stretch. 

This will pose as a replacement for courier services around the world. General Motors is also working on a self-driving service which it aims to introduce next year. The vehicles used by the said service will be an EV based on the company's small Beat hatchback.

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Following Ford will be the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance which plans on introducing its own driverless ride-hailing service by the year 2022. The automotive alliance has not yet released much detail about this venture. 

On the other hand, Ford is also working on building their own version of chariot busses which will be a part of their fleet network and will act as a substitute to the conventional public transport in cities across California and London. 

As of 2021, the company will only deploy these vehicles at scale, so as to subject them to further testing. They will come equipped with a partial autonomous system which will keep the vehicles moving in slow traffic conditions and will hopefully pave the way for completely-autonomous motoring in the coming decades.

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