Ford’s CEO Mark Fields at a news conference at CES annonunced Ford’s “mobililty” plans that include research, autonomous cars, emergency drones, more connectivity, more apps, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, smart home apps and Amazon Echo Alexa integration.
Ford will continue marketing, manufacturing and selling vehicles. Ford will focus more attention on service business because it makes sense says Ford’s CEO Mark Fields. However, transportation services are big growing industries.
Ford research shows people want to share new cars. Those who share electric vehicles want to drive electric vehicles. Ford will continue researching alternative transportation.
Ford SYNC3 has the highest level of satisfaction any car system, says Fields. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will coming to 2017 Ford vehicles and available as an update for Ford 2016 models.
SYNC Connect 4G LTE will be available for remote functions such as remote start, unlock doors, check fuel level and locate a parked vehicle via smartphone. SmartDevice Link will be used by other automakers including Toyota and software provider QNX.
Ford vehicles will work with Amazon Echo, say “Ask my car to start.” Alexa will tell the user how much battery life is left in the electric Ford. Alexa will open the garage door.
Ford is tripling its fleet of Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles this year. Ford claims the company’s fully autonomous vehicle fleet the largest of all automakers and accelerating the development and testing of its virtual driver software in both urban and suburban environments.
New fleet vehicles will use Velodyne’s advanced new Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto sensor that fit into the car’s rear view mirrors. The LiDAR offers precision required for mapping and creating accurate, real-time 3D models of the surrounding environment, enhancing Ford’s software development and testing to handle a broader range of driving scenarios.
Ford’s goal is to offer level 4 autonomous driving, not just in luxury vehicles but cars for everyone. Ford is working with other manufacturers, but no mention of a Google partnership.
Ford is developing ways to pair millions of SYNC-equipped vehicles globally with home automation devices or smart home products; half of consumers say they will buy at least one smart home product in the next year
Ford is working to integrate SYNC Connect and Amazon Echo to provide voice control access between the car and home; drivers could also access Internet-enabled devices, such as lights, home security systems, TVs and garage doors
Using Ford SYNC AppLink, drivers may also connect with the Wink smart home platform for home automation, including the ability to program a garage door to open and a porch light to turn on when a certain distance from home.
Ford is working with DJI, drone systems and software maker, by asking innovators to participate in the DJI Developer Challenge to create drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford SYNCAppLink or OpenXC. The goal is a surveying system for the United Nations Development Program to inspect emergency zones inaccessible to even the most versatile vehicles.
The technology could allow United Nations first responders to earthquakes or tsunamis to quickly deploy drones able to survey and map hardest-hit areas – all from the cab of an F-150.
Developers are tasked with creating software that would allow an F-150 and a drone to communicate in real time. The United Nations’ rapidly deployable surveying system ideally would work like this:
In a disaster, an emergency response team would drive an F-150 as far as possible into an emergency zone caused by an earthquake or tsunami.
Ford sees disruption as an opportunity to make lives better says Fields and change the way the world moves.