Motoring News

Austin chooses Ford to go autonomous for the future

Cities in South Africa would do well to avoid eventual gridlock by investigating the possibilities to reduce road congestion

Ford has announced that this hip city on the Colorado River will become the company’s third launch market for self-driving vehicles: the others are Miami-Dade County and Washington DC. ”It’s easy to love Austin,” Ford says, ”for its live music, its emergence as a prominent tech hub and even its bats (the city has the largest urban bat colony in North America.}

”We’re excited to be bringing more transportation solutions to this growing city loved by visitors and residents alike.”

AUSTIN AUTONOMY: Image: Supplied

Austin is the fastest-growing metro in America and that has affected how Austinites commute: vehicle use in the region could double by 2040 but highway capacity will only grow by 15% so the city is looking for diverse and innovative ways to move people around.

Ford believes self-driving vehicles are important: ”As we move towards the commercial launch of our self-driving vehicle services we’re expanding our testing operations in Austin in collaboration with city and state officials.”

Ford and Austin officials believe self-driving vehicles can be part of a comprehensive mobility solution by providing wider access to transport and more efficient goods delivery.

READ MORE Ford features on Carman’s Corner

Texas also has ambitious plans for self-driving tech, having passed a state bill governing autonomous technology in while creating a Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Task Force for further study of self-driving vehicles. Austin already has a Smart Mobility Office.

AUSTIN AUTONOMY: Image: Supplied
 Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, explained: ”As we start mapping roads and testing Austin’s self-driving system we’ll also conduct business pilots to see how we can best deploy our vehicles. With a large university and a vibrant, growing, downtown – not to mention a dense population that’s open to ride-hailing – there’s an opportunity for self-driving vehicles to perform a wide number of services.
”As part of our work in the community, we want to engage businesses and community groups about how this new technology can be deployed to enhance their daily lives.

”As Austin works towards expanding transport options our ultimate goal is to build self-driving services to complement a rich system of options.”

‘RE-THINK IS NEEDED’

Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, reports that almost 75% of Austinites commute alone in a personal vehicle. ”This is simply unsustainable,” he warns. ”Our 20-year goal is for at least half of all commuters to take advantage of other transportation options – buses of bicycles. With our region’s population expected to double in the next 20-25 years it’s clear we need to re-think how our right-of-way is used.”

Here are a couple of reasons he puts forward for SD vehicles:

Accessibility: Self-driving vehicles can increase transportation choices.

Safety: According to national findings, 94% of crashes are related to human error. Automated vehicles have the potential to drastically reduce that statistic because machines don’t get tired and don’t drive while impaired.

”There are still challenges to be resolved,” Adler says, ”among them understanding exactly how changes to our transport system can best advance our communities. Our Smart Mobility team has been working closely with Ford and we will continue that effort to ensure this technology helps make our city better and more equitable.

”The future entry of automated vehicles to Austin will be a meaningful opportunity to address safety, equity and accessibility. We’re looking forward to seeing how test vehicles can be put to use – and to build our public services based on the foundation that Ford is building in Austin.”

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