It has become conventional wisdom within the transportation industry that the introduction of autonomous vehicles will be a step-by-step process, starting with so-called “driver assistance” systems and only eventually reaching the point where cars and trucks will be capable of driving entirely on their own.
Ford Motor Co. says it is heading in a very different direction, however, the Detroit automaker revealing plans to put its first completely driverless vehicle into production by 2021. The model it is working on, global product development chief Raj Nair tells TheDetroitBureau.com, won’t even have a steering wheel or pedals.
“We don’t think the path to true autonomy is through a step-by-step, incremental process,” Nair said during a telephone interview. Having a driver sit behind the wheel, waiting to take over in an emergency is actually a dangerous solution, he explained because, over time, “You lose driver awareness. You lose the ability for a human to respond in a timely manner.”