Imagine calling an Uber, Lyft, or whichever taxi service is currently on the right side of politics, getting in with your friends, and not finding a driver behind the wheel because the car is driving itself. Thanks to Ford’s newest investment, this may be the future of the car industry.
Ford, one of the largest corporations in the auto industry, has made a groundbreaking investment of a whopping one billion dollars in the Pittsburgh artificial intelligence company Argo A.I. According to TechCrunch.com, the five-year investment will eventually result in all Ford vehicles made from 2021 onward being equipped with self-driving A.I. technology. For a major corporation like Ford to invest such a large stake in a start-up that is less than a year old is a bold move.
Ford is not the first major car company to put their funds into the technology of the future, however; Audi and BMW have made major investments into the A.I. industry as well. In early January, Audi announced that fully-automated cars would hit the road in 2020, a year before Ford plans to reveal their A.I. cars. Similarly, German car manufacturer BMW plans to develop their own line of advanced cars in their new $200 million facilities.
The consequences of these investments are still unclear, especially in the long-term. Those who are uncomfortable with such a big step forward in technology might see it as the beginnings of humanity’s evolution into the lethargic, technologically-dependent people in Disney’s “Wall-E.” The idea of being able to check Instagram on the road without endangering yourself might seem tempting, but the truth behind “self-driving technology” is not exactly as wild as it sounds. In fact, self-driving tech is already in wide use. Some car models as early as those made in 2003 have collision avoidance, drifting warning, being-spot detectors, cruise control, and self-parking, all of which are forms of artificial intelligence in cars.
According to Statista, 20% of the U.S. population owns an iPhone. This gadget is as commonplace as an advanced technology could be: it is easily recognizable, millions of people have it, and its many applications have set standards across the smartphone field. Five years before the first iPhone was released in 2007, however, everyone would have been shocked to hear that a single device could play music and games, calculate numbers, send texts, take photos, and make calls. By 2021, five years from now, the technology behind self-driving cars will also likely go from science fiction to hard fact, and as history goes to show, automated technology will not stop there.