Last year, Ford shut down the self-driving unit, Argo AI, that it had partnered on with VW, claiming that the technology for fully self-driving vehicles wasn’t ready and there was no business model to explore. Despite that, Ford CEO Jim Farley is now saying you’ll be able to yield control to your future Ford vehicle and take a nap at 60 mph on the highway. What future Ford vehicle? The automaker’s next-gen all-electric pickup truck, codenamed Project T3, which goes on sale in just two years.
Following up on the update about Project T3 from last week, Farley stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the new pickup would be capable of SAE’s Level 4 autonomous driving in certain conditions, presumably when it goes on sale in 2025. “On the highway on a sunny day, you should be able to go to sleep in your truck or make a call or do whatever you want to do in your truck while it drives for you,” Farley said in an interview late last week on Bloomberg TV. “It will be completely digital. It’s a really breakthrough product. This next truck is going to be a lot different, a lot better” than the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup currently on sale, Farley added.
Ford’s current semi-autonomous BlueCruise system is an SAE Level 2 setup, where the driver still needs to maintain awareness of the road ahead and keep their hands on the steering wheel for a majority of the time. No other automaker currently offers anything above a Level 2 system on a privately owned vehicle here in America, though some Level 3 setups are coming online in other markets and in testing form here. Many automakers believe in holding out for Level 4 or 5, where the driver disengagement time is dramatically increased in specific driving conditions, on highways in clear weather, and there’s less confusion and clearer communication on when the driver needs to take over for the vehicle.
Ford has repeatedly stated it rushed the original F-150 Lightning EV truck into production, and is seeking greater efficiencies and profit margins on the next-gen model. The new truck will be assembled at Ford’s new carbon-neutral Blue Oval City facility, and the next-gen pickup will offer a package that’s “updatable, constantly improving, and supports towing, exportable power and endless new innovations owners will want.”
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