Ford announced it is expanding its autonomous vehicle work from Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami into Washington, D.C. The company says it will be the first to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S. capital and will establish a self-driving vehicle business that will be responsive to the needs of the city and its residents.

Ford says it is working with district officials to ensure that self-driving vehicles will be deployed in an equitable way across the neighborhoods and in a way that promotes job creation. The company plans to test its self-driving vehicles in all eight of the district’s wards—and eventually operate business pilot programs in all eight wards as well—as it works toward deployment of a commercial service in 2021.

Ford’s partners at Argo AI have vehicles on district streets, mapping roads to prepare for testing in autonomous mode. Within the next year, the fleet is expected to be expanded into further testing areas, including in the city’s downtown core.

The company is also collaborating with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy in Ward 8 to train vehicle operators to safely operate and monitor the test vehicles on public roads and on closed courses throughout the development process. Ford will also work to train residents for auto technician careers that could involve self-driving vehicles in the future.

To manage the fleet on the ground, Ford has also established an autonomous vehicle operations terminal in Ward 5. This terminal is where it will continue developing the vehicle management process, house the fleet, wash sensors, and clean vehicles, as well as conduct routine maintenance and troubleshoot any potential problems.

Expanding operations into Washington, D.C., will allow Ford to understand how a comprehensive self-driving business could be used in one of the largest markets in the United States.

Click here to read the full article on the subject by Sherif Marakby, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.