October 27, 2020 1:00 PM, EDT

Ford Doubles Down on Testing Autonomous Cars in Miami-Dade

A test vehicle from Argo AI, Ford's autonomous vehicle unit, navigates a street in Pittsburgh.A test vehicle from Argo AI, Ford's autonomous vehicle unit, navigates a street in Pittsburgh in December 2018. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

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After landing in Miami-Dade in 2018 with a fleet of self-driving cars, Ford announced Oct. 26 that it plans to broaden its presence in the area as it explores the frontiers of autonomous vehicles.

The Michigan-based automaker said it now plans to establish a command center that will serve as the epicenter of its self-driving business and daily operations. Planned for a 140,000-square-foot, mixed-used space west of Miami International Airport, the center will include customer relations, public engagement, business development, research, safety evaluations and testing. The company expects the facility to be fully operational in 2021. A Ford representative said it was too soon to say how many workers it intended to hire.

“Miami is the foundation and cornerstone of the self-driving services we are building,” said Alex Buznego, Miami market manager at Ford Motor Co., in an email, noting that Ford chose Miami-Dade as its first city globally for its self-driving business.

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“Miami has been our home for over two years,” Buznego continued. “During this time, input and feedback from the Miami-Dade community has been informing many of our decisions. For over two years now, we have been on the ground collaborating with Miami-Dade County, conducting business pilots, and listening to the public through user experience research.”

Buznego said Ford hopes to build commercial services that would move passengers and deliver goods throughout Miami-Dade County starting in 2022.

Self-driving auto technology continues to get closer to widespread use, according to the New York Times, with Google — through its subsidiary Waymo — General Motors and Tesla all in a race to make these vehicles mainstream.

Ford currently operates a testing center in Wynwood, Fla., where more than 60 workers employed by Ford and technology partner Argo AI test a fleet of 30 vehicles. The Wynwood location will continue to be operated alongside the command center.

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