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Austin prepares its streets for self-driving vehicles

Ford and AI company, Argo AI, are working with the city to ensure testing pursues community-wide goals by providing services that are accessible, equitable, sustainable and, above all, safe.

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Ford believes self-driving vehicles can be a part of the solution to Austin’s future mobility needs
Ford believes self-driving vehicles can be a part of the solution to Austin’s future mobility needs

Ford has announced that will begin testing self-driving vehicles in Austin, Texas. It will be the third launch market for Ford’s self-driving vehicles along with Miami-Dade County and Washington DC.

 

To deploy the vehicles on Austin’s streets, the automaker has partnered with Argo AI, an artificial intelligence and robotics company.

 

Community-wide goals

 

The companies said they are working with the city of Austin to ensure the testing pursues “community-wide goals” by providing services that are accessible, equitable, sustainable and safe.

 

“The Austin strategic mobility plan called for improving the safety of our roadways, the accessibility and the equity of our transportation systems,” said Gina Fiandaca, assistant city manager, Austin.

 

“We know that autonomous technology plays a key role in that, and it’s so important for the city of Austin to be participants – active participants – in how we bring that to our community.”

 

In a joint blog post with Ford, Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, outlined the context of the initiative in the city: “With our region’s population on track to double in the next 20 to 25 years, it’s clear we need to re-think how our right-of-way is used if we want people to be able to move around our city,” he wrote.

 

Ford and Austin officials reckon self-driving vehicles can be part of a comprehensive mobility solution by providing wider access to transportation and more efficient goods delivery.

“With our region’s population on track to double in the next 20- to 25 years, it’s clear we need to re-think how our right-of-way is used if we want people to be able to move around our city”

Ford said it intends working closely with city and state officials and community partners to help ensure it is properly integrating plans into the wider transportation system.

 

“Over the coming months, our vehicles will be manually driven through east Austin as well as downtown, mapping the city’s main corridors in preparation for autonomous testing,” continued Sherif Marakby, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles, in the joint blog.

 

“Eventually we will expand beyond these areas, but these initial mapping trips help us develop a comprehensive understanding of the environment around our vehicles. For example, we use sensors on our vehicles to create high-resolution, 3D maps of streets, buildings and all permanent static objects in areas where we plan to operate,” he wrote.

 

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