Self-driving cars will be on the roads in the next five years, claims Ford CEO Mark Fields, but his company will instead focus on less expensive autonomous features.
Speaking at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas, where car manufacturers have arrived in force to show off the future of self-driving, Fields says vehicles capable of completely driving themselves "are a real possibility".
Fields told Bloomberg: "I think when you look at the level of development in cameras, sensors and software and the algorithms behind it, it's moving very, very fast, so our view is that in five years someone in the industry is going to be introducing a [self-driving] vehicle."
Despite developing several fully autonomous test vehicles, Ford will not be outlining a roadmap for when it expects to sell fully self-driving cars to the public. Instead, the company will focus on developing driving-assisting features to make the roads safer, leaving the luxury end of the market to tackle entirely autonomous - and inevitably more expensive - cars.
From traditional car companies like Ford and Mercedes, to Tesla and Google, interest in the self-driving car concept will continue to grow through 2015 and beyond. But while several concepts have been proven to work in controlled conditions, there is still a long way to go before drivers can take their hands off the wheel and read a book on their commute.
Google's car, for example, which has no driver controls apart from an on/off button, still cannot drive in rain, snow or carparks, and cannot navigate around roadworks, despite already covering more than 700,000 miles in testing.
For now, Audi proved this week that its self-driving prototype can navigate hundreds of miles of motorway without human interference, although the system is now yet intelligent enough to drive through towns and cities where the road layout is more complex.