Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett says the automaker is striving to build the “iPhone” of self-driving cars – that is, an autonomous vehicle that provides real value and pleasure to users, without forcing the tech down consumers’ throats.
“The evolution of [autonomous vehicles] will be the way the computer was,” Hackett said Thursday at a Business Leaders for Michigan summit, The Detroit News reports. The iPhone is great “not just [because of] the power of the computing. It’s the human-ness. [Steve] Jobs interpreted the computer science in the way humans would love to use it,” he said. “That’s what Ford wants to make.”
His comments were in line with some he made back in May at the Michigan Council of Women in Technology’s Executive Connection Summit. There, he said that autonomous vehicles must be designed to “augment” the human experience in order to “unlock the power of humanity.” Months later, at Ford’s City of Tomorrow event in San Francisco last August, the Ford Motor Company CEO reminded those in attendance that it’s all about the human user. “We don’t need the robot to get around,” he said.
Ford’s commitment to crafting an autonomous vehicle with a focus on the user experience could mean that the company is not the first to market with the new technology. The automaker has already said that it has no interest in building any high-level partly-autonomous vehicles, as the issue of how to rouse the driver and get them to resume control when needed is dangerous, and solving it would be virtually as difficult as creating a fully-autonomous car. Ford, its CEO says, is taking the long view.
That said, Hackett seemed to suggest Thursday that the days of the unconnected, human-driven vehicle are numbered.
“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” he said. “But there’s no dumb cars in the future. There can’t be. We have to evolve these things to be ever smarter.”