Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification layed out the plans Ford has for autonomous driving. He notes it that to look beyond the potential of autononomous and look how it can be applied in helpful ways to create a viable business. He does not mention any timeline but states that Ford is working on services for the city of the future where owning a car is not a viable option.
Ride sharing and hailing is on the rise, and shopping at malls is giving way to buying online, which is increasing package delivery services. Ford is building a business to capitalize on both of these trends. Ford plans to develop and manufacture self-driving vehicles at scale, deployed in cooperation with multiple partners, and with a customer experience based on human-centered design principles.
By starting with a self-driving vehicle designed to improve the movement of people and goods, Ford intends to ensure it offers both comfort for passengers yet be suitable for carrying packages. Some aspects of this self-driving vehicle business Ford is creating will be new for the team, while other parts will be familiar.
The Ford team has decades of experience developing and manufacturing vehicles that serve commercial operations such as taxi and delivery businesses. That extensive experience and those existing relationships are playing an integral part in Ford’s self-driving effort. Ford is partnering for thecapability to fulfill many use cases and the durability to maximize operation time.
Since the success of autonomous ride hailing or sharing and package delivery will be judged by the number of miles driven that generate revenue, or those carrying people and packages, Ford is focused on utilization time and the amount of time a vehicle can remain on the road. That’s why the fuel efficiency and total range of a hybrid-electric vehicle makes the most sense initially.
Perhaps most important of all, the self-driving future begins and ends with creating increased value for Ford’s customers. In addition to developing the technology, Ford is also working to define how the customer experience can — and must — transform.
The Ford team at Greenfield Labs in Palo Alto is researching a human-centered design approach that will identify changes to customer services that can be made due to the capabilities of self-driving vehicles. Ford is working to ensure that its application of self-driving technology enhances, rather than disrupts, what people most value about the services available to them today so to ensure that or self-driving technology makes their lives better tomorrow.
One thing is certain. Self-driving technology will change the way business is done. To help us build a viable business, we intend to work with multiple partners in the coming months to understand what self-driving technology can enable when applied with a human-centered approach. Working together, we’ll build a sustainable self-driving business that prioritizes the people experience over the technology experience.