Vehicle won’t have a steering wheel or pedals.

Ford plans to launch a fully-autonomous car by 2021 that will be put to use as a ride-sharing model. It will be what the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies as a Level 4 self-driving vehicle, meaning it won’t need a steering wheel or pedals because humans will never have to take over control.

The car will be used by a “ride-hailing or ride-sharing service,” Ford says, likely meaning a company like Uber or Lyft. Rival automaker General Motors already plans to test autonomous Chevrolet Bolt hatchbacks with Lyft. Ford says its car will be sold “in high volumes,” though it’s unclear exactly how many vehicles that would be.

As it works to ramp up development of self-driving cars, Ford is partnering with sensor company Velodyne, computer-learning company SAIPS, machine-vision group Nirenberg Neuroscience, and 3D-mapping company Civil Maps. The automaker will also significantly expand its Silicon Valley technology research center in Palo Alto, adding two new buildings with a total of 150,000 square feet of space, and doubling the facility’s staff, by the end of 2017.

Ford is already testing self-driving Fusion Hybrid prototypes around the country, and plans to triple its fleet of the cars to 30 this year. And then in 2017, Ford says it will triple the number of test vehicles again.

“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people – not just those who can afford luxury vehicles,” Ford president and CEO Mark Fields said in a statement.

The SAE lists six levels of vehicle autonomy, from 0 to 5. Ford’s Level 4 car will be what the SAE calls “High Automation;” the rating requires a car that can manage, “all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.”

Source: Ford

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