DEARBORN, Mich.—Amid reports of an impending autonomous vehicle partnership with Volkswagen, Dearbor-based Ford Motor Co. has begun testing robotic cars in its own backyard.
The auto maker, through its self-driving development partner Argo AI, said it has started to deploy third-generation test vehicles minutes from its headquarters, where it has previously tested. Argo and Ford also test in Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington and Palo Alto, Calif.
"Every city represents a unique opportunity to make our self-driving system smarter because of the exposure to different road infrastructure design, driving behavior and even traffic light placement," Argo President Peter Rander said in a statement. "The collective knowledge we're gaining by operating in five very different locales is a big part of the reason why we're making great progress."
Ford plans to launch a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, without steering wheel or pedals, in 2021. It has tested a number of commercial applications, including pizza, grocery and package delivery.Detroit is a logical test site. In addition to its proximity to Ford's headquarters, the auto maker's autonomous and electric vehicle teams are in the city's Corktown neighborhood. Ford also is renovating Michigan Central Station for $350 million as the centerpiece of an urban campus that focuses on self-driving vehicle development.