Ford will release a fully autonomous mass-market car without a steering wheel or pedals in 2021 for commercial operations such as ride-sharing.
The manufacturer is investing in four start-ups to improve research in advanced algorithms, 3D mapping, LIDAR and radar and camera sensors, as well as doubling the size of its Silicon Valley team and adding two new buildings to its Palo Alto campus for the development of the technology.
News of the autonomous car comes from Ford in the US. Other markets have not been discussed by the company, but it's expected that this technology will become available in the UK.
The car will have an SAE Level 4 standard of autonomation, meaning it will be capable of all aspects of driving without anyone physically controlling it.
Ford is also this year tripling its autonomous test fleet to 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid saloons - which is the Ford Mondeo in the UK - in California, Arizona and Michigan, and it plans to triple it again in 2017. It has not been confirmed if the autonomous car will be a new model or a modified version of the Fusion.
Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, 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 people - not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”
The companies Ford is investing in as part of its technical development are Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC and Civil Maps.
Government regulations are likely to be one of the main obstacles for Ford to work with in order to make its autonomous plans a mass-market reality. Ford, Google and Uber formed a lobbying a group earlier this year in order to encourage governments to think more about how to implement autonomous vehicles in cities.