Ford hasn’t shied away from the prospect of robo-cars.
Back in 2017, Ford brought on autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI to develop a self-driving program with plans to provide a self-driving taxi service in several cities by 2021. It’s been testing in Miami, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and maybe soon in Austin. Its cars can be spotted testing autonomous food deliveries in Miami. Autonomous pizza, anyone?
Ford cars were even used early in Uber’s self-driving program back before Volvo brought in thousands of its vehicles, including one that was involved in last year’s fatal crash in Arizona.
On Wednesday, the company announced a new autonomous vehicle factory in Michigan, part of a $900 million investment in the region. The factory is an even bigger sign that the auto company wants be part of autonomous technology. It’s supposed to be up and running by 2021, in time for that Ford taxi service to offer autonomous rides.
Along with producing more electric vehicles, the factory plans to take hybrid Fords and make them specifically for self-driving with cameras, sensors, and computers and a “unique interior.” The cars would be for a taxi service and also for transporting groceries or food deliveries. So instead of modifying cars to be self-driving ready, these cars would be made with self-driving as the main, original purpose of the vehicle.
Lyft is introducing a new “Green Mode” that will let passengers request an electric or hybrid vehicle as part of the platform’s goal to get a billion rides per year in electric cars by 2025. The green option is live in Seattle and will spread to other cities soon.
Drivers will be able to access electric vehicles (EVs) through Lyft’s Express Drive program, which allows users to rent vehicles to drive for Lyft.
Lyft announced this fall it would go carbon neutral by moving to renewable energy and purchasing carbon offsets to “neutralize the remainder of [its] emissions.” As part of that goal, the company says all EV charging will be done with renewable energy.
Uber is working on autonomous software that would allow dockless scooters and bikes to drive themselves to riders and charging stations, TechCrunch reports, citing commentsfrom 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson. Anderson said the announcement about the new Micromobility Robotics team was made at a DIY Robocars event this weekend.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Uber has already begun hiring for the research team, which would work under Jump, the micromobility firm that Uber acquired last year.
In a Google Form seeking information from people interested in career opportunities, Uber’s autonomous technology team said it was “exploring ways to improve safety, rider experience, and operational efficiency of our shared electric scooters and bicycles through the application of sensing and robotics technologies.”