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For Commercial Trucks, Ford Looks At Self-Driving Systems

For Commercial Trucks, Ford Looks At Self-Driving Systems
Ford Motor Co is working with multiple partners to put its autonomous vehicles on the road nd the company is considering deploying self-driving vehicle technology in larger commercial vehicles, reported Reuters quoting, a senior Ford executive on Tuesday.
”We’ve been talking with different partners in different industries“ about potential applications for Ford’s first self-driving vehicle in 2021, including ride-sharing and delivery services,” Sherif Marakby, vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification at Ford, said in an interview.
Marakby oversaw development of self-driving vehicles at Uber Technologies Inc. and he recently rejoined Ford from ride-services company Uber.
A review of the automaker’s strategy, including its investments in electric and self-driving vehicles is being led by Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett, who took over in May.
an “on-demand” shuttle service called Chariot, which is similar to Uber Technologies Inc’s ride-hailing service, is already being operated by the company and is being run by Transit vans. The company expects that eventually this could outfit those vehicles with self-driving systems.
Self-driving trucks are being attempted to be developed by Tesla Inc and some commercial truck makers. Ford builds Transit vans that commercial customers use to deliver goods and light- and medium-duty F-series trucks even as the company does not make Class 8, long-haul semi trucks.
With the intention to test Michigan consumers’ reactions to having their meals delivered by self-driving vehicles, Ford on Tuesday said it is teaming with Domino’s Pizza.
It is working with “many other companies” to develop self-driving hardware, while its Pittsburgh-based Argo AI affiliate builds the “virtual driver” software, Marakby said.
He added that Ford still plans to do much of its own systems integration work. Plans on sharing much of the engineering work and cost have been already announced by some rival automakers in the U.S. as well as in Europe. For example, Germany’s BMW has partnered with Intel Corp, Delphi Automotive and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
“We’re developing the technology and the (customer) interfaces to go to market directly with our partners,” Marakby said. “We’re open to other arrangements in the future.”
From car companies and component suppliers to technology giants and startups, as well as large corporations, universities and municipalities, there has been an explosion of interest in the past year in the development and potential deployment of self-driving vehicles.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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