Mark Fields gave a key note address at CES and some reports noted that Ford is not working on autonomous vehicles. We were at CES where Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW and Audi were all showing some kind of self-driving functionality. Mercedes-Benz dazzled the audience with a light show luxury demo car, Audi had journalists “hands-free drive” to Las Vegas from San Francisco and BMW showed self-parking BMWs. People who sat through the Ford keynote without seeing a car drive on stage told us, it didn’t look like Ford is working on autonomous self-drving cars, they are not as far along in showing their self-driving automobiles.
Ford has what it calls a smart mobility plan to for innovation to take it to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.
“Even as we showcase connected cars and share our plans for autonomous vehicles, we are here at CES with a higher purpose. We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company – and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO.
Ford has semi-autonomous vehicles it has on the road today and fully autonomous Fords are in development for the future.
Ford’s semi-autonomous vehicle features available today include lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and active park assist – with Traffic Jam Assist coming.
Ford is road-testing a fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid research car. It uses the same semi-autonomous technology in Ford vehicles today, while adding four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding environment.
The autonomous Ford Fusion can sense objects around it using the LiDAR sensors, and uses advanced algorithms to help it learn to predict where vehicles and pedestrians might move.
Audi’s self-piloted car drove in clear mild weather in California and Nevada without rain, sleet or snow. An autonomous ride from Detroit with snow, sleet, ice, mud and more over mountains would have been a much greater accomplishment.
“Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road,” Fields said. “Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers’ lives.