The company announced a suite of investments in technology groups, including one alongside Chinese search engine Baidu, and a doubling of its operation in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, to bolster its position in the race to develop the autonomous technology that is expected to revolutionise the motor industry.
“There’s a real business rationale for this,” said Ford chief executive Mark Fields.
“Vehicle autonomy could have as big an impact on society as the Ford mass assembly line had over 100 years ago.”
He said the cars will be “specifically designed for commercial” services such as ride-booking or ride-sharing.
The move pits Ford directly against Google and Apple as well as rival car manufacturers such as BMW, which has formed a joint partnership with Intel and Mobileye to develop a fully driverless vehicle by 2021.
When it announced the deal last month, the German carmaker said it wanted to become the “number one in autonomous driving”.
But Ford has announced a number of investments it hopes will give it the edge over its rivals.