Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Ken Washington, who was recently named Ford's Chief Technical Officer, was in San Francisco last week, along with newly named CEO Jim Hackett, as part of a "City of Tomorrow" event that explored how autonomous vehicles and other transportation changes will reshape urban life.

I caught up with him to talk about the role of software, how autonomy will change car design and his view on tech giants Apple and Google. Here are a few highlights:

  • The biggest influence will be how the cars are bought, sold and used: "You would design those vehicles differently depending on what business model (is being used). We're working through that business model question right now."
  • Ford isn't closed to working with Apple and Google, but it is still treading carefully. "We are not ceding our future to anyone but at the same time we are being very strategic about who we partner with," Washington said. (Former CEO Mark Fields had warned carmakers risk the same fate as phone manufacturers in the smartphone era — seeing control and profits shift to software makers.)
  • The biggest misconceptions about autonomous capabilities is that it's only about software. "People are imagining that the act of doing software for autonomy is all you need to do and then you can just bolt it to the car," he said.
  • "I don't think it's possible to describe what an autonomous vehicle is going to look like," Washington said.

Sign up for Axios alerts and newsletters, including Ina Fried's daily tech newsletter "Login" by going here.

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
2 hours ago - Health

Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic

President Trump attacked CNN for continuing to cover the coronavirus pandemic, calling the network "dumb b*stards" at a campaign rally in Prescott, Arizona on Monday.

Why it matters: The president's attacks on the media and Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious-disease expert, come as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are again surging across the country, just two weeks out from Election Day.

3 hours ago - World

Deal to remove Sudan as terror sponsor paves way for Israel move

President Trump announced Monday that he will be removing Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list after the Sudanese government agreed to pay $335 million in compensation for families of American victims of terrorism.

The big picture: Trump's announcement is part of a wider agreement that is expected to include moves from Sudan toward normalizing relations with Israel.