Ford is bringing its self-driving cars to California’s public roads.
The American automaker announced plans today (Dec. 16) to begin testing its fully-autonomous Fusion Hybrid model on public streets in 2016, as part of a state-run Department of Motor Vehicle program.
The Detroit, Michigan-based company joins Alphabet’s Google, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Honda and others permitted to test self-driving cars in California—speeding up the race to make such vehicles publicly available.
By Google’s estimates, the public is still five years away from taking fully-autonomous spins on the open road, but Swedish automaker Volvo plans to shorten the wait to two years. Ford, which has been testing autonomous vehicles for a decade, aims to make self-driving cars available in the mass-market in four years.
The upcoming tests tie into that goal, as well as a Ford initiative—dubbed the “Ford Smart Mobility” plan—to advance the automaker’s role in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, data, and analytics.
As part of the bid, Ford has partnered with a number of American universities to research those fields. Next year, the company will expand its efforts with Stanford University—doubling the number of research projects in collaboration.