Ford Takes A Step Closer To Self-Driving Cars – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ford Motor Co. says it is moving closer to producing fully autonomous vehicles, vowing to bring various driver-assist technologies to its entire lineup within five years and naming a 29-year veteran to head up autonomous vehicle development.

Randy Visintainer, director of product development quality, will lead a global team focused on delivering cars that will one day drive themselves. But for now, Ford’s focus is on making more widely available certain driver-assist technologies that can help you brake in an emergency or stay between lanes, for example, or get in or out of a tight parking space.

Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development, Raj Nair, said these technologies are the building blocks for increasingly capable semi-autonomous operation. But he said the industry is still in the first of five development stages toward fully autonomous driving.

“It’s a really big step from these driver assist technologies to fully autonomous vehicles,” Nair said, without offering a timetable for driverless cars.

Nair’s remarks came at a media event in San Francisco, near Ford’s new research and innovation center in Silicon Valley, where tech giants like Google and Apple have been grabbing headlines for developing their own autonomous cars.

Ford, like other automakers, wants to show that it’s not asleep at the wheel when it comes to autonomous vehicle development.

In fact, Ford is trying to infiltrate Silicon Valley’s ecosystem for innovation by partnering with tech start-ups as it works on its Ford Smart Mobility plan, which focuses on connected, autonomous vehicles.

For example, the Dearborn, Mich.,-based carmaker said it is working with Carbon3D, a Redwood City-based company that developed an advanced 3D printing process that can grow car parts from plastic resins at speeds that are 25- to 100-times faster than conventional 3D printing processes.


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