Ford withdraws petition searching for U.S. approval to deploy self-driving autos


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Ford Motor Co has withdrawn a petition searching for U.S. regulatory approval to deploy as much as 2,500 self-driving autos yearly with out required human controls like steering wheels, in response to a letter made public Thursday.

The automaker informed the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration (NHTSA) it was now not searching for approval for the petition it filed in July 2021, citing its determination to shut its self-driving enterprise Argo AI final 12 months.

“As evidenced by the deliberate shutdown of our ADS associate Argo AI, we consider the street to totally autonomous autos, at scale, with a worthwhile enterprise mannequin, can be a protracted one,” Ford stated in its Feb. 13 letter, including it was “extra prudent” to give attention to different applied sciences that “don’t require an exemption.”

The NHTSA made the letter public on Thursday.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker stated on Thursday that the strategic determination to give attention to partially automated autos meant it now not wanted petition approval.

Ford, which collectively ran Argo with Volkswagen AG, booked a $2.7 billion non-cash pre-tax impairment on its funding within the unit and laid off some workers.

The petition was made public in July 2022 by the NHTSA and opened alongside an analogous petition submitted by Normal Motors that’s nonetheless pending. Ford had stated it meant to deploy a self-driving ride-hailing and bundle supply car early on this decade.

Ford had sought permission to not embody human controls “similar to a steering wheel, brake pedal (and) gear state controls.” The automaker informed the NHTSA in its petition that self-driving autos “having energetic driving controls and communications would introduce an unacceptable threat to security.”

The NHTSA has authority to grant petitions to permit a restricted variety of autos to function on U.S. roads with out required human controls. Efforts in Congress to make it simpler to deploy autos on U.S. roads with out human controls have been stymied for years.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Enhancing by Franklin Paul and Leslie Adler)