Self-driving cars are work in progress and headed to Austin for testing

Ford will bring a handful of self-driving Ford Fusion cars with a hybrid engine to Austin to develop technology that could ultimately lead to its first full-purpose, self-driving model.

There’s not a big push for Texans seeking self-driving cars, but it’s of importance to the auto industry.

AutoHarvest chairman David Cole said there's a long road ahead to a self-driving car and will take a lot of laboratory work, which happens to be the tech mecca—Austin.

He said there's six levels of autonomy. Zero is nothing.

"Level Five being you can go anywhere, anytime. Level Four would be under a more controlled environment. Level Three is probably the highest commercial product right now, is what we would think of as two and half. Cadillac has technology called Super Cruise," said Cole.

While in testing, drivers will be in the car who can take over in case something goes wrong.

"The ultimate objective is, obviously, you can be asleep in the back seat on a trip," said Cole.

He said there's tremendous potential, but still a lot of work to do. The whole autonomous car industry is just emerging, even though companies would like you to believe it's about to happen any time. Everybody is working that way or partnering up with companies advancing in technology. The autonomous industry will be looking at policies that support self-driving vehicles.

Ford will begin deploying their first few (less than 10) autonomous vehicle prototypes sometime between mid-November and the end of 2019 in East Austin and downtown Austin. Ford could expand to as many as 30 vehicles.

autonomous car

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