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Ford will begin testing its self-driving cars in Europe in 2017


Ford’s self-driving cars are coming to Europe.

The Detroit automaker plans to begin testing its autonomous cars in European countries next year, the company announced Tuesday.

Because rules of the road, traffic signs, and road layouts differ from country to country in Europe, it’s important that the company test in the region, Thomas Lukaszewicz, manager of automated driving at Ford of Europe, said in a press statement.

Ford has a bold vision for its driverless future.

The company currently has about 30 self-driving cars in its fleet, but it plans to triple that number in 2017, bringing the total number of cars in its fleet to about 100.

What’s more, the company also plans to launch a fleet of autonomous taxis for public use in at least one city in the US by 2021. But, unlike other automakers, Ford’s self-driving cars won’t have a steering wheel, gas or brake pedals.

Ford LiDARScreenshot via YouTube

Most major car companies have said that they are planning to roll out a self-driving car sometime during the next five years, but the levels of autonomy vary. Many car companies have committed to semi-autonomous systems that enable the car to be completely autonomous in certain driving situations, but that still have a steering wheels so that the driver can take back control of the vehicle when needed.

However, Ford wants to make its cars fully autonomous because it sees these semi-autonomous systems as a possible liability. This is because people begin to trust the systems too much and fail to re-engage control of the vehicle when needed.

“We are not in a race to be first, but we are in a race to do the right thing, which is why we are building on more than ten years of experience on how to responsibly deliver a ride service that is fully autonomous that does not require a driver to re-engage,” Ken Washington, vice president of advanced research and engineering, told Business Insider during an interview in August.

“Our research has led us to understand that it [re-engagement] is very difficult to do and we don’t know how to enable that, so that is what led us to pursuing a full level four autonomous vehicle and this re-engagement issue goes away,” Washington said.

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