You Won't Get to Buy Self-Driving Cars Until 2026–2031, Ford Research VP Says
The carmaker's first autonomous vehicle should hit the streets by 2021...but it'll be a while longer until Joe Sixpack can take one home.
As we've repeatedly mentioned here at The Drive, Ford is hard at work developing an autonomous car for ride-sharing duty that the company expects to hit the road around the year 2021. But while the public may be able to depend on self-driving cars for rides around the turn of the next decade, it'll be a good but longer before loyal FoMoCo customers can park an autonomous vehicle in their own driveways, according to one of the company's executives.
Ford vice president of research and advanced engineering Ken Washington—a man with the sort of job title that leads you to believe he knows what he's talking about when he talks self-driving cars—recently declared that he expected consumer sales of autonomous vehicles to happen five to 10 years after the initial roll-out of the company's robotic fleet, according to Automotive News.
"Our current view is the adoption rates [of autonomous vehicles] will be relatively gradual," Washington said during a keynote at the SAE WCX World Congress Experience, AN reports.
But he reiterated that, while people in the automotive industry may differ about the pace at which self-driving cars enter the marketplace, it's more or less an inevitable proposition.
"The revolution in computing is making things possible that was previously unfathomable," he said. "This is not science fiction. This is not a research project. This is something we’re going to make happen, and others will, too.”
Ford, though, may have something of an edge (no pun intended) in the vehicle autonomy race, thanks to both long-running work in the field and newer moves like the company's $1 billion acquisition of Argo AI. A recent study by Navigant Research found the carmaker is leading the pack in the race to develop self-driving cars, with General Motors and Renault-Nissan nipping at its heels and big-name Silicon Valley players like Tesla and Uber well behind. (Indeed, the Blue Oval's autonomous test vehicles are so good at their job, test drivers have been falling asleep at the wheel.)