Ford realizes it should have an AI and robotics team

The new R&D team will help Ford catch up with its self-driving rivals

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PA Archive/PA Images
PA Archive/PA Images

Ford is moving closer to vehicle autonomy by announcing its creation of a dedicated robotics and artificial intelligence research team. In a blog post by vice president and CTO Ken Washington, the company lays out its ambitious plans for exploring and innovating a whole range of vehicle tech with designs "to be at the forefront in the field."

It's no secret that Ford has been lagging when it comes to the 'futuristic' tech that its rivals are already on top of. It's still three years away from releasing a long-range electric car (GM already has the Bolt on the market) and only launched its self-driving focused 'mobility' subsidiary little over a year ago.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen has recently announced its cars will be 'talking' to each other within as little as two years, while Tesla, a company focused on tech innovation, last year delivered less than 80,000 cars compared to Ford's 6.7 million, and has still managed to overtake Ford in terms of market value.

The creation of this new team is unsurprising given the leadership reshuffle seen in May, when self-driving car chief Jim Hackett was brought in to replace CEO Mark Fields. This renewed focus is certainly attributable to his vision -- and Ford is better-positioned to realize this now it's working in partnership with self-driving tech company Argo AI.

Of course, car manufacturers are already focusing their efforts on innovating their technology so the announcement doesn't give Ford any lead. But it does put it back in the race. As Washington says in his blog post, this is "a team tasked with not just watching the future, but helping to create it."

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