Ford have announced that they are investing $1 billion over the next 5 years in self-driving car technology. This comes in the form of robotics and artificial intelligence company, Argo AI. Argo will be in charge of designing and building the “virtual driver system”, which is basically the car’s ‘brain’.
Ford’s goal with this investment is to create a self-driving car by 2021 that is available for commercial use. This would probably be for industrial use at first, such as in the mining industry, before it moved to everyday, public use.
It’s a huge step for Ford and the automotive industry as we know it. Companies like Tesla have been interested and involved in creating a self-driving car for a long time, but Ford’s investment is a sign of recognition by one of the biggest car manufacturers on the planet that this technology could be the future of the automotive industry.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. There’s still a long way to go until self-driving cars are an everyday norm in our lives. The technology certainly is appealing, though, and the possible benefits could be life-changing. It’s been proven that self-driving cars cause fewer accidents, reduce congestion, and lower fuel consumption. Pretty good, right?
That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks. The initial cost of self-driving cars will be out of reach for a large majority of people, and there are still a lot of question marks over the security of the technology. That being said, there are always going to problems when adopting new technologies, especially when we’re talking about replacing something that billions of people use every day.
It’s also worth thinking about the uses of this technology beyond day-to-day driving for the public. Industrial fleets within the mining and farming industry would benefit massively because of reduced costs and better productivity. Success with self-driving cars could also promote robotics development in other areas. The servicing industry could also see benefits, with more people dependent on expert help in fixing their new autonomous vehicles.
Whether you like them or not, self-driving cars look to be here to stay. If more companies like Ford continue to invest in this technology, it might not be long until we’re all putting our feet up on our way to work in the morning!
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