Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

Ford self-driving car in Washington, D.C.Ford is expanding its self-driving car program, which seeks to find business uses for the technology, to Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital joins Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami as a site for Ford’s autonomous car testing.

“Both Ford and district officials are committed to exploring how self-driving vehicles can be deployed in an equitable way across the various neighborhoods that make up Washington, D.C., in a way that promotes job creation,” Ford autonomous-vehicle boss Sherif Marakby said in a blog post.

Ford plans to deploy prototype self-driving cars in all eight of the district’s wards and to eventually establish business pilot programs in all eight wards as well. The automaker previously launched autonomous-delivery pilots in Florida, in concert with Postmates and Domino’s. These pilot programs are a prelude to Ford’s planned launch of a production self-driving car for commercial fleets in 2021. In addition to delivery services, Ford has discussed ridesharing as a possible use for self-driving cars.

Autonomous cars could potentially take jobs from human drivers, but Ford claims to be working with local D.C. interests to create jobs around the technology. In his blog post, Marakby said Ford will train self-driving car safety drivers locally, and create more training opportunities for automotive technicians. Ford will also establish a terminal for its self-driving car fleet in Ward 5 that will handle dispatching and routine maintenance.

Marakby said Ford chose D.C. as its latest self-driving car testing ground because of its large population and high annual visitor count. Support from Mayor Muriel Bowser was a crucial ingredient as well. Autonomous cars will also serve as a form of four-wheeled lobbying: Demonstrating the cars on local streets complements Ford’s ongoing push for favorable self-driving car legislation.

Ford has taken a slightly different approach to other companies in that it is already preparing to manage fleets of self-driving cars as a business, rather than just a test program. The company has set out to tackle mundane but important issues like coordinating maintenance and figuring out how human customers will interact with a driverless delivery vehicle. While some competitors may beat it to market, Ford may be better prepared to operate self-driving cars in commercial service when 2021 rolls around.

Emerging Tech

Google wants to map the world's air quality. Here's how.

For the past several years, a growing number of Google’s Street View cars have been doing more than just taking photos. They’ve also been measuring air quality. Here's why that's so important.
Cars

Semi-autonomous and always available: A peek into the near future of car rental

Soon we will see connected rental fleets with a dedicated lane at airports for self-driving cars, where drivers control the car to the airport, and then the empty car drives itself to the rental lot.
Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Cars

Aston Martin will revive James Bond’s DB5 at a price only Goldfinger can afford

Aston Martin will build 25 new versions of the DB5 from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, complete with gadgets. These "continuation cars" will cost millions of dollars, but won't be road legal.
Cars

Tesla’s recent Model S fires prompt the company to update its battery software

Following three Model S incidents where the cars caught fire while parked, Tesla has started pushing out an update for Model S and Model X batteries to improve their safety. The company is still investigating the cause of the fires.
Cars

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra keeps an eye on the road even if you’re not looking

Hyundai has again updated the Elantra, one of its most popular and most affordable models. For the 2020 model year, the Elantra receives standard driving aids like lane-keeping assist and forward collision warning.
Cars

Six advanced tech features that make off-road driving easy

It wasn’t too long ago that driving off-road required serious skills and a lot of equipment. Thanks to technology, any family crossover SUV can hit the trail today and have a good chance of coming back in one piece.
Product Review

The 2019 Ford Mustang GT 350 finally has the grip to (almost) tame its V8

Four years after its debut, the standard GT350 finally gets the suspension and tire package it always needed. While evolutionary rather than revolutionary, Ford’s update takes the Shelby’s track prowess and fun factor to a new level.
Cars

Lamborghini’s ST-X will likely spawn a super-Urus with the soul of a race car

Lamborghini is taking the Urus racing in 2020. The racing version will be lighter than the production model it's based on, and we expect it will be a good deal quicker. It is also trickling into a performance version of the Urus.
Cars

Volvo’s new app walks you through what to do after an accident

Volvo's Accident Advisor sends information on what to do after an accident directly to a driver's smartphone. Drivers can also use it to notify their insurance companies and find a repair shop.
Cars

Hyundai wants to make sure you’re seeing the outside world, not inhaling it

Hyundai is developing an intelligent air purification system for its cars that continuously monitors the quality of the air inside the cabin, and cleans it when it detects the presence of harmful particulates.
Cars

Nissan claims its upgraded ProPilot system enables hands-off highway driving

Nissan is launching a new version of its ProPilot Assist system that's much smarter than the current version. It can handle acceleration, braking, and steering on highways, while using a camera to ensure the driver doesn't fall asleep.
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz fires its first salvo in the luxury electrification war

The EQC is Mercedes-Benz's answer to the Tesla threat, bringing performance, tech features, and luxury to the growing electric SUV segment. We headed to Norway, the electric car capital of the world, to get a taste of it.
Cars

2020 GMC Sierra sees a bunch of updates, including adaptive cruise

GMC announced updates to its 2020 GMC Sierra pickup truck, including much-needed adaptive cruise control, a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine option, improved towing cameras, and expanded availability of the 10-speed automatic transmission.