Ford is gearing up to test its self-driving vehicles in another U.S. city, according to reports stating that a testing program in Austin will launch soon.
Citing sources familiar with the development, the report said the test in Austin is coming ahead of the launch of its self-driving taxi and delivery services, which are slated for 2021. The newswire spotted a job listing posted by Ford for an autonomous vehicles “market specialist” based in Austin. In the listing, Ford said it is looking for candidates to join its Autonomous Vehicle business team.
Austin would be the fifth city in which Ford is testing its self-driving vehicles. The company also has tests going on in Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
“We are on track to announce the next deployment city in which we plan to expand our self-driving technology and business testing efforts by the end of this year,” a Ford spokesperson told the news outlet in an emailed statement. “We will provide more details at the appropriate time.”
Ford is testing two self-driving tracks, which will be combined when launched to the public in 2021. In 2017, the company invested $1 billion in Argo AI, which is working on the creation of a virtual driver system and high-definition maps that will be used for Ford's autonomous vehicles. Ford is also partnering with retailers to test various uses for its self-driving cars. The report speculated that Ford could use Argo AI to map the city and then use the research vehicles to test use cases.
Ford isn't only focusing on the U.S. market with its self-driving aspirations. In the fall, it kicked off a two-year self-driving vehicle test project with Baidu, the Chinese technology company. The collaboration, which the two said will further advance development and on-road testing of autonomous cars in China, will serve to advance the technology around autonomous vehicles.