Ford will start making its own microchips next year, saying it believes that it has the technology necessary to deliver car-like experiences for customers.
The new chips will be used to do things like make cars smarter, not a whole lot like cars yet.
“It’s not like you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and you’re watching a movie,” Jim Hackett, Ford’s chief executive, said Wednesday at a technology event in Detroit. “It’s more of a cognitive computing environment.”
Ford is now up to version 1.0 of its plans. Ford already manufactures its own sensors for diagnostics, interface and climate control. The new chips will use the same sensors and processors, Hackett said. But Ford’s version will pack in 2,000 central processing units to deliver a much more robust computing environment. The central processing units will be able to handle tasks like artificial intelligence and to analyze data on the road, inside and out.
The chip will eventually go into cars the company plans to sell later this decade, but it will be installed in small vehicles initially.
Ford expects its ability to provide more computing power to car drivers to make cars safer. That means many more accidents could be avoided, which could make people more willing to take out their phones to call a cab or text rather than taking their hands off the wheel.
Other automakers are already testing self-driving cars on autonomous vehicles without drivers. But Ford is also working on making cars more fully autonomous.
For example, Ford’s version of the chip will be able to handle events like swarms of drones as they buzz overhead. Ford expects to have a much more advanced system in place before that happens.