Fields, whose company has been boosting its Silicon Valley headcount to accelerate technology, says getting to economies of scale is key so that the costs of building such vehicles drop. But costs notwithstanding, Fields said the next decade will be "defined" by vehicle automation. Ford's 2021 vehicles will meet the SAE level 4 rating, which means there will be no steering wheel, gas, or brake pedals. Ford said this spring that it would work with Uber and Lyft at developing self-driving vehicles that can be used for ride-hailing.
The Ford chief made the comments as the auto industry continues to wrestle with the technology and legalities involved with autonomous vehicles. Apple, which is working on an autonomous-vehicle effort called Project Titan, just laid off "dozens" of workers associated with the project, according to the New York Times. Apple may be stepping back from its efforts to build the entire car, and instead will focus specifically on technology.
Meanwhile, Tesla Motors said this past weekend that it will change how its cars radar sensors operate and gather data for the electric vehicle maker's Autopilot systems. Under the updated system, Tesla's radar systems will be able to sense the activity of a vehicle that's traveling two cars ahead of the Tesla. And for all we know, that vehicle may eventually be a self-driving Ford.