Google cars are fine as far as they go, but Ford still sees the need for a human driver

Ford Motor Company isn’t ready to take the human out of the driver’s seat quite yet.

Don Butler, executive director of the auto giant’s Connected Vehicle and Services group, says this is a basic difference between his company — which, after all has been in the car business for more than a century and thus has some accumulated knowledge — and Google.

“[company]Google[/company] looks at vehicles as being independently capable — with no controls for the driver, well, actually the passenger. From Ford’s perspective, we still have a driver-centric model. We think the driver needs to be engaged,” Butler told attendees of Structure Connect 2014 in San Francisco.

That is not to say [company]Ford[/company] is ignoring automation and advanced sensing technology. The company will keep adding technologies, including things like lane-keeping systems and blind-spot warning systems, as part of the automotive evolution. “We think the vehicle needs complete sensing capabilities as well. There will be a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication coming,” he noted.

For example, your car might sense a slippery road surface and know that information is useful for your own personal journey but is also valuable to the cars near you. Increasingly, autos will share that road information with each other.

In essence, Ford’s take is that cars need the best in technology to get their occupants where they need to go safely, but they also still need an actual human being in the driver’s seat.

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Photo by Jakub Mosur