Mark Fields, chief executive of Ford, today announced that the company will acquire machine learning and vision specialist SAIPS. Ford has also announced a partnership with a second machine learning company, Nirenberg Neuroscience.

These deals form part of Ford's driverless car initiative. The development of autonomous vehicles requires skills and expertise that the big car manufacturers have not previously needed. To fill the gaps quickly, Ford and others are turning to outsourced R&D and strategic acquisitions.

Ford is aiming to start selling driverless cars within five years. The software capabilities of SAIPs and Nirenberg Neuroscience will supplement Ford's in-house hardware development, and this could be a critical factor in determining the success of their driverless solution.