via Digital Trends
Ford is planning to take its self-driving car technology onto European roads next year as part of its ambitious plan to launch a fully autonomous car for ride-hailing services by 2021.
Trials will start at its Engineering Center in Essex, U.K., followed by additional testing at its Research & Advanced Engineering facilities in both Aachen and Cologne in Germany, the car giant told TechCrunch this week. Ford said the teams at the testing locations are already up to speed with the company’s autonomous driving technology, which made choosing the new sites easy.
The grand plan is to mass produce an SAE Level 4 self-driving vehicle within five years. For those unfamiliar with SAE levels, “0” is for a car with no automation at all while “5” is fully automated. So Ford’s car will be pretty much completely autonomous, though driver intervention may be required in particularly adverse weather conditions or unusual environments.
Ford has partnered with several tech startups to improve its autonomous capabilities and has already been testing its car in simulated urban environments in the US. “Ford will triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet to be the largest test fleet of any automaker – bringing the number to about 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan,” according to Ford’s Media Center. Plans to expand testing to Europe are a logical next step as the company looks to position itself for autonomous ride-sharing services.