The vehicle it will produce will not possess a steering wheel or accelerator or brake pedals and is “being specifically designed for commercial mobility services, such as ride sharing and ride hailing, and will be available in lofty volumes”, Ford said.

Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive, said: “The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago. We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of populace – not fair those who can afford luxury vehicles.”

The company revealed the plans as it announced recent partnerships with four begin-up companies that it said will aid it with its autonomous vehicle development.

Ford said it has invested in Silicon Valley-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors specialists Velodyne. It has also acquired Israel computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS to access technology that will “aid Ford autonomous vehicles acquire and adapt to the surroundings of their environment”.

The auto manufacturer said it has also taken out an exclusive licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience to “bring humanlike intelligence to the machine learning modules of its autonomous vehicle virtual driver system”. It has separately invested in 3D mapping business Civil Maps with the goal of developing “lofty-resolution 3D maps of autonomous vehicle environments”.

Ford said it plans to triple to approximately 30 the number of autonomous vehicles in its testing fleet this year, and then triple that number again in 2017. It said it also intends to expand its Silicon Valley operations to aid support its smart mobility ambitions.

The announcement by Ford coincides with another development in the development of connected cars announced by German auto manufacturer Audi. Audi said recent ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ technology has already been deployed in some of its vehicles and allows messages to be relayed to drivers that traffic lights are due to pivot green or that they will not build it through traffic lights priorto they pivot red, according to a BBC report.

Future iterations of the technology could aid vehicles to regulate their hurry so as to flow through traffic lights and could be interlinked with navigational systems and halt and begin functions deployed in those cars, Audi said, according to the report.