Four billion dollars is a lot of money. It could buy you 12 Boeing 777s. It’s actually more than the GDP of many small countries. And it’s the amount of money Ford is investing in self driving technology in the next few years.
The company has created an offshoot business, called Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, which will develop and improve Ford’s autonomous car technology, research, integration, engineering, user experience and much more besides. If it’s to do with a new self-driving car that has a blue oval on the nose, it’ll probably go through this firm.
The self-driving vehicles department will be based in the centre of Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighbourhood. Corktown was hit very hard in the recession, and summed up the miserable time Detroit endured. By 2022, it’ll be home to Ford’s new campus, around 2,500 employees, retail space and residential housing. Ford recently bought the derelict, graffiti-covered Michigan Central Station in the centre of the district, with a view to renovating it to its former glory.
“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain,” says Ford boss Jim Hackett. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”
In other words, autonomous cars are soon to be everywhere. Even here in the UK. Completely self-driving vehicles are expected to be trialled on our roads before the end of the year, and will be allowed on any road in Britain once they have passed safety reviews. At the moment, all autonomous car technology has to be tested with a driver present.
The UK government says that new self-driving cars can be in commercial use in just three years’ time.
Photos: The Verge