At the most recent press event, we got a chance to take a ride on Ford's autonomous Fusion. Of course, as a person who has never driven a self-driving car before, I expected a strange experience, and I was right. First of all it was a bit scaring, I mean, do you imagine yourself sitting in a car that drives itself?! I had no idea how the car would act since I'm used to human drivers.
Sitting in a Ford backseat with two Ford engineers who explained about the car's technology and how it works was a bit weird. The drive took us around the Ford development campus featuring roads with actual signs, lane markings and real traffic. We never got out of the speed limit of 25 miles per hour, but it was enough to demonstrate how the car recognizes signs, signals, pedestrians, and other traffic. We also got a chance to see the vehicle wait for an unexpected pedestrian at a crosswalk. While riding, you could easily forget that the car is driving itself. It may drive more timid than any drivers, but that doesn't mean it's something bad. The turns were executed smooth, even the left turns against traffic were great. The driverless system maintained its lane position very well, it never got too close to either side, and never bounced between sides.
It could have been a more bizarre if that was me sitting on the wheel, but I think that is something you get used to with time. I felt comfortable as if someone of my friends was there driving the car, or as if I was in a taxi. The more normal autonomous cars feel, the more quickly people will get over their fears. The first road-ready self-driving cars by Ford will be revealed to the world in 2021.