In fact, the company's most recent patent, filed by Ford Global Technologies, is seeking to allow the auto maker to create a video-game-like operating system for its vehicles that can be controlled from mobile devices or laptops.
The new technology will allow the company's cars to run without even needing a steering wheel -- long way from the Model T and a possible avenue to generate some unforeseen value.
The company has said it will roll out a line of self-driving cars by 2021, offering battered Ford investors some hope to hang on to after losing 27% so far in 2018.
Tussling with Tesla
Tesla overtaking Ford in terms of valuation recently surely put executives on notice and has helped kickstart what CEO Jim Hackett sees as the growth engine of the future for the company.
As part of Hackett's move to catch up to the partnership between Honda Motor Company (HMC) and General Motors Company (GM) as well as Tesla in the autonomous driving space, he announced a $4 billion spending program to be directed at self-driving.
"Ford has made tremendous progress across the self driving value chain -- from technology development to business model innovation to user experience," Hackett said in announcing the $4 billion investment plan. "Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead."
Hackett has been at the forefront of Ford's efforts to excel in autonomous driving for quite some time. Prior to taking up the CEO role at the company he headed up Ford Smart Mobility, the company's tech focused self-driving startup.
Earlier this year the company acquired Autonomic and TransLoc, two transportation technology companies. That was followed up by a $1 billion ownership stake in Argo AI, a self-driving developer. The move consolidated the self-driving program into Ford Self Driving LLC.
The company has also invested in testing its technology with Domino's Pizza (DPZ) and Postmates in order to enter the lucrative delivery market that companies like Walmart Inc. (WMT) have touted heavily.
"As we increase our understanding of the business opportunity for self-driving vehicles to support the movement of people and goods, we're pleased to have Domino's join us in this important part of the development process," Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, said upon striking the partnership.
If Ford can continue to corner the market for logistics partnerships, it could become a significant source of value for investors.
Slow and Steady
The company has also made strides in presenting itself as a safer option in the space, in contrast with companies like Tesla, which have had public mishaps.
Ford, along with Alphabet, Inc. (GOOGL) and GM are the only companies to address safety issues voluntarily through testing.
"We are not in a race to be first to offer self-driving vehicles to the public," the company stated in its report on autonomous driving. "Our focus is on doing it correctly."
The company's prioritizing of safety in favor of speed or advanced technology might allow it to outpace its peers in terms of regulatory approval, a key piece of getting products on roads in the United States.
To be sure, Ford's failure to be first could be costly.
Tesla, GM and Google have been investing longer and more heavily in the technology, providing a significant threat to the company's sunken investment if the market moves forward with their models more quickly.
"Many investors see Ford as well behind General Motors in terms of autonomous vehicles," Morgan Stanley pointed out in a company note on Monday morning.
The risks are certainly present, but for an over 100-year old company with sales sinking swiftly, the heavy investments in self-driving technology may offer a compelling growth engine to risk-happy investors ready to bet that recovery can come from the company's risk-averse approach.