Ford and Kia have won licenses in the states of California and Nevada in the USA respectively to test fully autonomous vehicles on public streets.
The companies have both set ambitious plans to introduce driverless vehicles into production by the end of the next decade, with substantial investments already having been made.
Ford is officially enrolled on the California autonomous vehicle test program and has been using its research and innovation center in Palo Alto as a base housing more than 100 researchers, engineers and scientists.
The company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it plans to triple the size of its Fusion-based autonomous fleet to 30 vehicles. They’ve mainly been tested up to now at the University of Michigan’s Mcity facility. Ford says that its fully autonomous fleet is now the largest of all auto makers.
“Using the most advanced technology and expanding our test fleet are clear signs of our commitment to make autonomous vehicles available for millions of people,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technical officer. “With more autonomous vehicles on the road, we are accelerating the development of software algorithms that serve to make our vehicles even smarter.”
Kia will carry out testing of its autonomous driving technologies on public roads in Nevada, the first time in real-world conditions for the Korean manufacturer. Alongside sister company Hyundai, Kia plans to introduce a range of partially-autonomous driving technologies to its model line-up including eco-friendly vehicles by 2020, and says it aims to bring its first fully-autonomous car to market by 2030. The two companies have already committed US$2bn over the next two years to get the initiative started.
“Thanks to this license we will be able to accelerate the testing of our new autonomous driving technologies that are currently in the early stages of development, with particular emphasis on our alternative powertrain vehicles,” said Dr Tae-Won Lim, vice president, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group. “We are confident that our latest innovations will ultimately make driving safer for all road users.”
January 7, 2016