In a letter to the NHTSA, Ford announced that it is abandoning its petition that would allow it to operate autonomous vehicles without physical human controls.
Autonomous vehicle technology has grown in popularity since the launch of Tesla’s suite of autonomous driving offerings. Now, countless automakers, including Mercedes, General Motors, and Ford, have all jumped on the technology as a new revenue stream, but many are learning it isn’t as easy as it looks. Ford most recently was forced to abandon its self-driving joint venture with Volkswagen, and now according to Reuters, it is further distancing itself from the technology it once explored.
More specifically, Ford has announced that it will no longer pursue a petition to the NHTSA to operate autonomous vehicles without human controls. This technology was initially meant to be implemented into vehicles as part of its aforementioned joint venture, Argo.AI, but with the abandoning of the project with Volkswagen, it was no longer looking to implement the technology.
Ford’s letter to the NHTSA outlined that autonomous vehicles and their implementation will be a significant challenge, especially as the automaker looks to turn the technology into a business model of its own. “As evidenced by the planned shutdown of our ADS partner Argo AI, we believe the road to fully autonomous vehicles, at scale, with a profitable business model, will be a long one.”
Ford initially planned for Argo.AI to be a delivery and ride-hailing competitor, similar to the Cruise subsidiary established by General Motors. GM is still pursuing a similar petition with the NHTSA to operate vehicles without physical human controls.
This isn’t to say Ford is abandoning autonomous driving as a whole; far from it. Ford is continuing to grow the number of vehicles it is equipping with its “BlueCruise” level 2 self-driving technology, and the Blue Oval has even established a new AV subsidiary, but this time, without the help of VW Group.
While Ford and GM remain hooked on the idea of a robotaxi competitor, not all automakers are following their path. Mercedes, which has recently become a frontrunner in autonomous vehicle technology, is opting to deliver the technology directly to their customers. The most recent deployment of level 3 autonomy is coming to the EQS and S-Class in certain states in the U.S.
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