2021 for taxi-style usage in selected areas. This is level 4 automation: no human driver will be needed to take over. But the car won't be able to go everywhere. Likely that means the cars will be restricted to very well mapped areas without challenging conditions.
Ford says the higher cost of the computer and sensing equipment restricts its use to fleets which rack up very high mileage per vehicle per year. The car will be a more expensive piece of capital equipment that requires very high usage rates to pay the cost of capital.
I find the 2021 launch date to be a little surprising since Ford seems late to the party. On the other companies seem think they can prepare products to make them ready for market fairly quickly. For example, Delphi is trying to roll out a self-driving taxi service in Singapore in 2019 with a limited route and with greater capabilities later. MIT spin-out start-up nuTonomy is also working toward building an autonomous taxi fleet in Singapore. All of these companies are working toward deployment in limited driving areas and for taxi-style usage.
If the initial costs aren't too high then Cadillac, Mercedes, and other luxury car makers might come to market with level 4 autonomy near the time when autonomous taxis come on the market. If the luxury makers can support operation more areas than the taxi makers then elderly and otherwise disabled but affluent people would make a decent-sized market as well as on-the-go successful business types who want to spend their travel time working. If you are making millions of dollars per year then a $100k to $150k autonomous vehicle that freed up 30-90 minutes of commuting time for working could offer very good value.
Looks like fully autonomous vehicles for personal ownership are still 10 years out for most of us. Though a MotorTrend comparison of 4 partially autonomous vehicles shows we will get benefits short of full autonomy before then. A thought that struck me while reading the article: I want to be able to tune my future autonomous vehicle for greater safety. For example, tune it to not follow the car in front of me as closely as standard factory default specifies.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2016 August 16 08:56 PM|