Ford is targeting autonomous vehicles by 2020. These will be Level 4 autonomous vehicles, that provide fully autonomous driving in certain conditions — mostly notably favorable weather and geofencing.

Favorable weather is clear enough, but what is “geofencing”?

Geofencing is the act of limiting automotive autonomy to certain geographic areas — most notably well-mapped roads like highways and major thoroughfares.

Cars will (I assume?) be able to leave the geofenced area, but outside that zone, full autonomy is not guaranteed. This means the cars would need steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, and the full complement of human driving controls we associate with cars today.

It’s a little bit tricky to make that work, but not nearly as tricky as so-called Level 3 autonomy, where the computer and the human are passing control of the car amongst themselves, ping-pong-style.

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