Driverless cars ‘demand overhaul of major cities’, says Ford


Ford has called for major cities to be rebuilt to cope with the rise of driverless cars, taxi apps and booming urban populations, warning that city centres will grind to a halt otherwise.

Jim Hackett, the American carmaker’s chief executive, warned of “overwhelming pollution and paralysing congestion” if cities continue to grow as they are today.

He said the rise of ride-hailing apps and delivery services would inevitably lead to more traffic unless transport authorities responded, adding that cities filled with cars had become a threat to “civic life”.

Mr Hackett, who was put in charge of Ford last year, is tasked with turning the company around after years of falling share prices and fears that it is falling behind in the key battlegrounds of driverless and electric vehicles.

On Tuesday, Ford announced that it would launch an online service that would allow fleets of connected cars to wirelessly communicate with public transport, cyclists and infrastructure such as traffic lights and car parks to manage traffic. Its “mobility cloud” would allow different companies and government bodies to plug into a shared control centre, which Ford said would let cities run more smoothly.

The company also unveiled plans to test a delivery service using driverless cars in a US city in a tie-up with the courier app Postmates. Ford is aiming to release a fully driverless car to the public in 2021, but plans to expand beyond selling cars by selling on-demand services using fleets of vehicles owned by the company.

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