Miami's roads are a mess. Tourists are unsure where to turn. Senior citizens plod along at speeds which defy physics. Local motorists blend an assortment of international driving styles. Congestion snakes along major arterials. New construction hazards spring up at a moment's notice.
This chaos, it turns out, is exactly why Ford Motor Co. has plunged headlong into testing the mettle of its autonomous-driving technology on Miami's streets.
Brett Browning, vice president of robotics at Argo AI, the tech company building Ford's self-driving system, compared it to choosing where to ski.
"If you stay in easy environments, on the green slopes, you solve problems, but it turns out not the right set of problems," says Browning. "You never even see the right set of problems."
For the past year, Ford and Argo AI have conducted testing on public roads in Miami and surrounding Dade County in anticipation of launching a commercial business in 2021 that's underpinned by autonomous-driving technology. Should that plan go as expected, Miami will be the first place where Ford's autonomous ambitions take root, a flagpole in a highly competitive environment.