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Austin the Latest Market to Test Ford Self-Driving Vehicles

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Photo: Ford Motor Company

Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC CEO Sherif Marakby announced that Austin will become the third market in which the automaker will test self-driving vehicles on public roads. It’s fitting enough a choice —Marakby notes the fact that Austin was the first city to allow a public self-driving vehicle test and is currently one of the fastest-growing metros in the United States.

According to The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, vehicle use in Austin is expected to double by 2040 against an expected 15 percent increase in highway capacity. This makes Austin something of a ripe testing ground for mobility solutions, and Ford is doing its part with self-driving vehicles that it hopes will offer better access and more efficiency of use.

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Ford autonomous vehicles in Austin

“We believe that if you want to successfully launch a self-driving service that improves people’s lives, you can’t just drop into a city and start rolling cars out onto the streets,” Marakby writes in an article on Medium. “You need to develop a comprehensive understanding of what people and local businesses would find useful — and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing over the next few years.”

Along for the ride will be Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who lays out the city’s 20-year goal of having at least 50 percent of residents taking part of public transportation, bicycles and forms of shared transformation. Adler sees two additional areas of major potential in the partnership: accessibility and safety. The hope is that automated vehicles will provide equity in transportation, making Austin a more empowering city for all of its residents.

Ford also tests its self-driving vehicles in Miami-Dade County and Washington, D.C. The automaker hopes to commercialize fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.

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Photos: Ford Self-Driving Vehicles Testing in Austin