Is the future driverless? Ford’s investment in autonomous driving began many years ago and the goal of putting fully autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021 remains on track.

But in the technology world, it’s crucial to be out in front. There are no limits to the opportunities for innovation, and that’s what drives Ford to remain on the cutting edge of the latest technology. With the recent announcement of a $1-billion investment in Argo AI, Ford continues to lead the way towards an autonomous future!

Diagram of your future driver: an autonomous vehicle as a human!

Tackling complex and delicate problems like those posed by autonomous vehicles means putting the best and brightest minds to work. We’re combining Argo AI robotics subject matter expertise with Ford’s proven record of excellence when it comes to automobile manufacturing to create the next generation of future-forward autonomous vehicles.

A hint at what’s next?

Canadian drivers are already getting used to the idea of semi-autonomous features with Ford’s latest generation of in-car and driver assist technologies. Drivers haven’t been replaced yet, but we are well on the way to creating even smarter technology that allows for safer vehicle behaviours in driver-controlled vehicles – and eventually driverless cars.

Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection technology employs a windshield mounted camera and radar to automatically detect obstacles in order to calculate and potentially reduce the risk or severity of collisions, while Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar to monitor traffic, maintaining a preset distance from the vehicle in front of you. These and other smart technologies currently require a human element, but it is likely that in the future they won’t.

These semi-autonomous features provide a quick peek into the future of autonomous technology – while also making roads safer, and vehicles smarter today.

The Empathetic Automobile?

While Argo AI and Ford partner to move people and goods in innovative ways, another aspect of the mobility experience stands poised to change forever. Machine learning can take on entirely new dimensions as our cars learn our moods and facial expressions, setting up a future of “empathetic” cars. Imagine if SYNC 3 could do more than respond to your commands at the push of a button, it could also pick up on your body language and subtle intonations in your voice.

It might seem like the stuff of Hollywood science fiction, but the artificial intelligence under development has dozens of other applications, such as recognizing gestures and how we speak. This could allow your car to recognize your favourite songs based on your current mood, know when you may be nodding off on long drives and alert you, or even detect when you are sad and cracking a joke to brighten your mood.

As machine learning and artificial intelligence improve, they’ll glean more information from our prompts and from our environments. SYNC 3 already enables a host of voice controls and includes support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto – and with Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa soon on the horizon, we may not be so far away from the ‘feeling’ machines.

Are you ready to chat it up with your chassis? Will you value your car for its ability to maintain a conversation as much as its air bag? Share your thoughts and tag your most robot-friendly friend on the Ford Canada Facebook page or in the comment section below!