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At the start of the 20th century, Henry Ford invested in cutting edge technology that revolutionized automotive mass production. And that technology, obviously, was the assembly line.
Now a century later, Ford Motor Company is once again investing to revolutionize the automotive industry and (hopefully) produce affordable, autonomous vehicles within about 5 years, and its investment centers on intangibles -- a concentration of intellectual assets in Silicon Valley.
Ford CEO Mark Field sees his company as pioneers in the "automation" of autonomous vehicles. What lies ahead? END] Ford’s new breed of self-motoring sedans won’t have steering wheels, brakes or gas pedals. No one is in the driver’s seat. Everyone will be a passenger.
“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” Field said in a recent interview.
“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people — not just those who can afford luxury vehicles,” said Fields.
Ford has about 10 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans that it is testing on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. It is expected to have 90 by the end of 2018.
It's latest investment has the company doubling the size of its staff in Palo Alto, California, to more than 300 employees, expanding its offices and labs in that city, and signing new partnerships with companies that are developing technology for self-driving cars. The moves are the latest by Fields to reposition Ford into a full-fledged mobility company.