September 25, 2019 / 2:01 PM / 19 days ago

Ford self-driving cars to launch in Austin in 2021

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will add Austin, Texas, to the short list of cities where it plans to launch a commercial transportation service using automated vehicles in 2021.

The U.S. automaker previously said it would begin transporting people and goods in automated vehicles in Miami and Washington.

Ford's self-driving system, now being tested in Fusion Hybrid sedans, is being jointly developed with Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based startup in which Ford and Volkswagen AG together hold a majority stake.

Sherif Marakby, chief executive of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, said Ford plans to launch the commercial transportaton service in 2021 in a purpose-built hybrid vehicle that can be equipped to carry either people or goods.

Peter Rander, president of Argo AI, said development teams soon will be manually driving the Fusion test vehicles in Austin, mapping the city streets and assessing driver and pedestrian behaviors ahead of the commercial launch.

Alphabet Inc's Waymo last year introduced an automated ride service with human attendants in Phoenix, using specially outfitted Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans it buys from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

General Motors Co's Cruise Automation said in July it planned to delay commercial deployment of automated vehicles in San Francisco beyond its initial target of 2019 because more testing was required. (Reporting by Paul Lienert Editing by Tom Brown)

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