Ford set to test its fleet of self-driving cars in Washington, D.C.

The big names in the self-driving segment including Uber, Waymo, and General Motors are already testing their autonomous cars in several metropolitan areas. Now, Ford is beefing up a similar effort of its own by announcing today that it will deploy its fleet of self-driving cars in Washington, D.C. as part of a trial, making the American automaker the first company to do so in the area.

Ford said it is already testing self-driving vehicles in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami in partnership with delivery companies. The new announcement marks the company's expansion to Washington, D.C., where it is launching a self-driving vehicle business to serve its residents.

Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, said in a Medium post that the company will cooperate with local officials in the area to facilitate the testing across the district’s wards with the goal of commercializing the service in 2021. Ford plans to grow its self-driving fleet next year and bring its testing to more areas.

To put real humans behind the wheels who will be responsible for ensuring safety testing on public roads, Ford will also train vehicle operators from the D.C. Infrastructure Academy, a workforce training hub located in Ward 8. In addition, the company will also train local residents in performing automotive maintenance and repairs with a possible view to include self-driving vehicles in the future. The training courses will be developed in collaboration with Excel Automotive in Ward 7. The fleet will also be housed in Ward 5, where Ford will also conduct maintenance and other vehicle management processes.

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