Ford plans to spend US$1 billion over the next five years on the development of an artificial intelligence system for driverless cars.
Ford will investment the money in Argo AI, a start-up founded by former leaders from Google and Uber's self-driving car research units, and they will work toward the goal of a system that's ready for deployment in 2021.
The research will be focused on a virtual driver system capable of operating at what's called "SAE level 4."
It's one of five levels defined for self-driving cars and specifically describes an autonomous car that's capable of completely controlling the vehicle in almost any condition.
After it has been engaged, drivers do not need to pay attention to the driving.
It's a step more advanced that many of today's demonstration systems, which still require driver control in many situations, and one step down from full automation.