Ford Announced Plan to Triple Investment on Semi-Automous Driving Technologies Leading Up To Driverless Cars

By Staff Writer

Feb 24, 2016 05:13 AM EST

American automaker Ford announced that it will triple its investment in semi-autonomous driving technology. The statement came from the company's CEO Mark Fields on Monday. The investment will be allocated to develop driver assistance and semi-autonomous driving technology over the next five years.

The announcement from Ford CEO was made when the carmaker company introduced an updated version of its smart all-wheel drive SUV, Ford Kuga. The new version of Ford Kuga was unveiled at the annual technology conference Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. The Ford Kuga, like some other Ford's cars, already have some semi-autonomous features.

According to USAToday, the announcement did not disclose the specific amount to be invested in semi-autonomous driving technology or where the resources would exactly be centered. Fields stated that Ford's goal is to stay true to its heritage as an automaker that builds cars for the masses and develops an affordable self-driving vehicle.

"When the first Ford autonomous vehicle comes out, it will be an autonomous vehicle designed to serve millions of customers, not just for those who buy luxury vehicles," Fields said in the announcement. "We've been focused on autonomous vehicles for more than a decade and this year we'll have the largest autonomous test fleet among all major automakers," he added, referring to the company's testing procedure of driverless cars in Germany, California, and Michigan.

CNBC mentioned some driver assist technology that Ford is working to develop. "Traffic Jam Assist" will help the driver with steering, braking and acceleration in heavily congested traffic situations on motorways. Another driver assists called "Fully Active Park Assist" will help drivers park. The new assisting technologies are expected to be rolled out over the next three years.

It's no doubt that the development of driver assistance reflects the car company's intention to eventually produce self-driving vehicles. The updated version of Ford Kuga includes SYNC 3, the latest version of Ford's connectivity technology with improved voice commands and easy access to the driver's smartphone. The system was compatible with Apple's vehicle operating system CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.

More investment in developing the products' technologies also reflected a shift in Ford's focus as a company. Ford's executive director of connected vehicle and services Don Butler stated that the company is transitioning from just a hardware company to a software and mobility services company as well, he said as reported by CTVNews.

Although the number of the investment is not disclosed, Ford announced that the company will devote more resources to develop semi-autonomous driving technologies. The amount will be threefold than what the company had allocated before. Some of Ford's cars already have some semi-autonomous technology in them, as the company seeks to develop more technologies that will eventually lead to driverless cars. 

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