UPDATED 22:09 EST / OCTOBER 22 2018

fordwashington EMERGING TECH

Ford to start testing self-driving cars on the streets of Washington D.C.

Ford Motor Co. will set a historic first as the first company to deploy self-driving vehicles onto the streets of Washington D.C.

The test of the vehicles, run in conjunction with Argo AI, the artificial intelligence startup it invested $1 billion into back in February 2017, will begin in the first half of next year. The ultimate aim is to achieve a full commercial ride-hailing and transport service by 2021.

According to Ford, the company already has vehicles on the roads of the nation’s capital undertaking preliminary testing and mapping for the computer system that underpins the technology.

The formal test, once launched, will see autonomous vehicles with both a safety driver and an engineer in the front seats, although Ford noted that they will eventually be removed once they’re confident that the tech is safe. Much of the emphasis in both the testing and proposed service is on equity with “ a business that will be responsive to the needs of the city and its residents.”

“The advent of self-driving vehicles promises a chance to make it more affordable and easier for people to get to jobs by filling gaps in access to public transportation, new ways to deliver food and other products, and more,” Ford wrote.

The deployment includes allocating vehicles in all eight wards of the city, along with working with a workforce training center to prepare residents for a number of jobs relating to the fleet such as automotive mechanical positions. Although Ford didn’t specifically say so, the implication is that Ford will offer training to those who lose their jobs as autonomous vehicles replace the need for drivers.

Ford isn’t the first company to be aiming to offer a driverless ride-hailing service and it won’t be the last. Waymo LLC is close to launching a driverless commercial ride-hailing service operating in Phoenix, Arizona, after a year of testing, while rival General Motors Co. plans to start its own “robotaxi” service in San Francisco next year.

Photo: Ford

Since you’re here …

Show your support for our mission with our one-click subscription to our YouTube channel (below). The more subscribers we have, the more YouTube will suggest relevant enterprise and emerging technology content to you. Thanks!

Support our mission:    >>>>>>  SUBSCRIBE NOW >>>>>>  to our YouTube channel.

… We’d also like to tell you about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content.

If you like the reporting, video interviews and other ad-free content here, please take a moment to check out a sample of the video content supported by our sponsors, tweet your support, and keep coming back to SiliconANGLE.