DETROIT -- Detroit 3 technology chiefs say their companies plan to skip a major step on the path to autonomous vehicles.
The companies plan to go from Level 2 autonomy, in which the driver controls most functions of the vehicle, straight to Level 4 -- full autonomy -- because it's safer and less costly than pursuing a midway point of limited self-driving, the executives say.
"If you really want to drive autonomously, you need to have the capability in your vehicle to be able to make really hard decisions," said Ken Washington, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president of research and advanced engineering, at the SAE 2016 Convergence conference last week in suburban Detroit.
Washington said Ford will roll out a fully autonomous ride-hailing service in 2021, and is focusing on refining driving-assist technologies such as lane-departure warning and emergency braking -- technologies categorized as Level 2.
Level 3 autonomy requires drivers to pay attention and take over when prompted by the vehicle, or when the driver sees obstacles the vehicle hasn't yet detected. Washington said he doubts people will pay for technology that behaves erratically.