Ford Chief Says Automated Car Rollout Will Be Slow


Ford CEO Jim Hackett said that Ford must be ready for the self driving car era and they have plans to make one in 2021 / Photo by: University of Michigan's Ford School via Flickr


Ford CEO Jim Hackett said Tuesday that even as the company intends to push on with their 2021 target of releasing its first “purpose-built driverless car,” they understand that the rollout of the extra automation feature itself will be slow and the applications narrow, as the road to full car automation is still complex.

The statement, as reported by, is not the first one that carmakers have had to release ever since the clamor for self-driving cars became a big deal in the industry. This is amidst an active climate of Silicon Valley companies investing in the technology, only to come up with varying results.

Ford and other big companies are now toning it down on the publicity for the automated cars industry, implying that media reports and headlines may have blown real progress in the industry out of proportion, when the real deal is that today’s technology is not yet as ready to take on self-driving challenges head-on.

Waymo, a company that worked in collaboration with Google for a driverless program, stated in November much the same thing. CEO John Krafcik said that “autonomy always will have some constraints” that is the casualties and accidents that big companies might get into if they prematurely launched a technology that is essentially still in its infancy.

For safety purposes, Waymo still manages a small, self-driving service in suburban Phoenix, but since there is still no telling if the technology will advance enough to become well and truly “driverless,” the company still puts human drivers behind the wheel as a contingency plan.

It doesn’t help that the few self-driving tests that have been made even got into a spot of controversy after the infamous Uber test in Arizona that killed one pedestrian.

On the matter of still putting a human behind the wheel, even Nissan agrees, which, although it will be releasing a self-driving car by 2020, knows that funding the creation of a self-driving car “without a human in the loop” is a “useless system.”