Ford's New CEO is One of the Few Realistic Voices on the Road to Autonomous Cars

One day, we'll all use self-driving cars to get around Fort Wayne. There won't be any accidents, because computers are infallible. We'll be able to relax and read a newspaper (or our Google news feed, more accurately) while our robot-car drives us to work.

That's the future just about every automaker is advertising, but there are several elephants in the room.

For one thing, road infrastructure in America will never be good enough. Self-driving cars don't like when lane markings are faded. When roads are torn up for construction, or there's snow? Forget about it.

More importantly, nobody likes them! Surveys suggest over three-quarters of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and more than half don't even want to share the road with one.

Ford Motor Company's new CEO is not shutting down autonomous-technology research, nor rescinding his predecessor's promise of a highly-automated vehicle for 2021. But he is being realistic about what customer's should expect.

"The nature of the romanticism by everybody in the media about how this robot works is overextended right now," said Ford CEO Jim Hackett in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "It will be a progressive thing, just like computing. If you think about a vehicle that can drive anywhere, anytime, in any circumstance, cold, rain—that's longer than 2021. And every manufacturer will tell you that."

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