Ford rethinks Level 3 autonomy

Ford Motor is shifting its approach to autonomous-vehicle technology.

In 2016, Ford said it would largely pass over Level 3 autonomy and instead focus on Level 4 — vehicles that do not require human control — while continuing to develop Level 2 driver-assist features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping systems. (Automation technology is categorized on the SAE International spectrum ranging from Level 0 to Level 5.)

At the time, Ford executives said they did not know how to responsibly manage the transfer of control from machine to driver that happens with Level 3 systems.

“We abandoned the stepping-stone approach of driver-assist technologies and decided we’d take the full leap to deliver a fully autonomous Level 4-capable vehicle,” Raj Nair, then Ford’s president of North America, said at an August 2016 event detailing Ford’s autonomous business plan.