So... Robot Cars Won't Be Taking Over After All?

It wasn't long ago that Ford's CEO, Mark Fields, was promising what sounded like an AI overthrowing of civilization as we know it. Or maybe we just watch too many dystopian sci-fi movies.

According to Fields, Ford would be offering a driverless taxi service by 2021. That date may sound like the far-flung future to some of us older folk—it was the setting for Johnny Mnemonic—but it's only four years away. Will Ford really be producing cyberpunk-level autonomous cars in just four short years?

Yes. But...

Mark Fields's vision may have come on a little strong for Ford's taste—or we can assume so—because they replaced him with a new CEO, Jim Hackett, who is going to great lengths to dial back everyone's expectations.

Hackett says Ford will have a high-level autonomous vehicle on the market by 2021, but goes on to explain that self-driving technology has limitations, and human drivers are still part of the equation. Can a machine intelligence navigate when road signs are obscured? Can it handle road construction scenarios? What about heavy snow? These are things manufacturers are working on, but might not be there in the near future.

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