A Motown giant just announced its next big hit — and it’s being developed in Silicon Valley.
Ford says it will work to develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles for ride sharing — think Google meets Uber — by 2021.
Mark Fields, Ford's chief executive officer, announced the new goal Tuesday at the company's campus in Palo Alto.
Ford says its new vehicle won't need a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. That's a break from many other companies, who plan to gradually add self-driving capability to traditional cars.
Ford's vehicle will be specifically designed for commercial mobility services, like taxi companies, and will be available in high volumes. Ford says personal ownership of self-driving cars will come later.
Company officials also said Ford will expand its facility and double its workforce as it prepares to go driverless.
Part of Ford’s plan is to reach out for help.
The company says it will invest in a pair of Bay Area tech startups: Velodyne of Morgan Hill and 3D mapper Civil Maps of Albany.
Ford's Chief Technology Officer Raj Nair admits driverless cars, at least at this point, “don’t make economic sense,” but as Uber and Lyft have shown, there’s money in ride sharing.
Soon, you’ll be sharing, but without a driver.
Scott rolls on Twitter: @scottbudman