DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s head of research believes the general public won’t be able to buy a fully autonomous vehicle until sometime between 2026 and 2031.
The automaker is developing a Level 4 self-driving vehicle -- without a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals -- for use in a ride-sharing service in 2021. Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering, said sales to individual consumers likely won’t happen until five to 10 years after that first fleet implementation.
That’s a more conservative timeline than what has previously been suggested by CEO Mark Fields, who has said the automaker would offer robot cars to consumers by about 2025.
“It’s really hard to guess and predict the pace of the technology,” Washington said as part of a keynote address at the SAE WCX World Congress Experience. “Our current view is the adoption rates will be relatively gradual.”
Despite the slow rollout, Washington said self-driving cars will be a reality.
“This is not science fiction,” he said. “This is not a research project. This is something we’re going to make happen, and others will, too.”