However, a Level 3 BlueCruise system is on the way.
While the automotive industry has invested heavily in autonomous vehicle technology, with brands like Mercedes-Benz introducing Level 3 Self-Driving, the truth remains that Level 4 autonomous technology is still some time away. Ford's CEO Jim Farley recently admitted this, noting that while the company believes full-self driving is achievable, it won't happen anytime soon.
"We're optimistic about a future for L4 ADAS, but profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are a long way off and we won't necessarily have to create that technology ourselves," said Farley at the company's third-quarter financial results announcement.
Back in 2017, the Blue Oval invested in Argo AI, an autonomous driving firm based in Pennsylvania. Volkswagen partnered with the American automaker, with the hope of developing cutting-edge self-driving tech. Originally, the company had planned to introduce Level 4 ADAS tech to the market by 2021, but that didn't happen.
Argo AI is expected to shut down, and engineers will be hired by Ford to continue working on autonomous technology.
"Things have changed, and there's a huge opportunity right now for Ford to give time - the most valuable commodity in modern life - back to millions of customers while they're in their vehicles...it's mission-critical for Ford to develop great and differentiated L2+ and L3 applications that at the same time make transportation even safer," added Farley.
The automaker has already introduced BlueCruise to models such as the Mustang Mach-E. This allows owners to hand driving responsibilities over to the vehicle - on certain stretches of American highways, at least. More than 130,000 miles of road have been mapped by the technology, and this will only expand as Argo AI engineers continue to work on the system.
This move comes after Argo AI failed to attract fresh investment. This had an effect on Ford, which recorded a $2.7 billion non-cash, pretax impairment on its Argo AI investment. This resulted in an $827 million net loss for the third quarter. Ford has decided to move spending from Level 4 autonomous driving to Level 2+ and Level 3 technology. The latter will enable a BlueCruise system that works without drivers needing to keep their eyes on the road.
Still, Farley remains excited about the future of self-driving. Earlier this year, he said, "when I see the pricing power for ADAS, not just at Tesla, but all of us…it feels like that's the first shippable software that we could send to a car that customers are really willing to pay a lot of money for."
While there's still a while to go before we see any self-driving Fords on the road, autonomous vehicles have been operating in several American cities for some time now. GM-backed Cruise operates self-driving taxis in San Francisco and has plans to expand to additional locations in the coming months.
Similarly, Motional has partnered with Uber to bring autonomous robotaxis to the streets of several key cities across the country.