Ford today announced plans to start testing autonomous vehicles in Washington. The news, communicated in a blog post, claims that the Dearborn-based automaker will become the first developer to test vehicles in our nation's capital.
Ford already has robust self-driving car testing programs in place in Detroit, Pittsburgh and Miami, thanks in part to its $1 billion partnership with Argo AI. The process of creating highly detailed maps of the city that are necessary for autonomous vehicles to function is already underway.
Ford Autonomous Vehicles CEO Sherif Marakby in the blog post said Ford will try to distribute its self-driving car testing equally over the eight wards that make up the district. The rollout comes in advance of offering self-driving car rides on a commercial basis, which Ford plans to start in 2021.
"The advent of self-driving vehicles promises a chance to make it more affordable and easier for people to get to jobs by filling gaps in access to public transportation, new ways to deliver food and other products, and more," Marakby said. "It also means change -- and how we prepare for that change will greatly impact people and their communities."
It's reasonable to assume that putting self-driving cars on the doorstep of government could go a long way toward making the company's self-driving car tech more visible to the politicians who regulate the technology, potentially putting the Blue Oval in a better light.