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Cities should improve human lives

The company has announced a new Transformation Mobility Cloud to simplify the flow of transit data

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The central mission is that technology improves human lives
The central mission is that technology improves human lives

Ford is introducing a new Transformation Mobility Cloud open platform to simplify the flow of data in support of transportation systems from vehicles and bicycles to mass transit.

 

It aligns with the vision for future cities that Ford president and CEO, Jim Hackett, and fellow executives, put forward at CES 2018 this week in Las Vegas.

 

Hackett took to the stage for the opening keynote to share his bold outlook for Ford and cities. He idealised “the living street” and touted a human-centered course forward when it comes to smartening our cities. “It’s not about cities getting smarter, it’s about humans having a better day,” he said.

 

Hackett’s vision focuses efforts on creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for the people of rising smart cities. "The time has come to fundamentally update our approach and shift our central mission to harnessing that technology as a tool to improving human lives," he said at the Ford CES 2018 press conference.


The company also announced that it is collaborating with Qualcomm on cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X).


Hackett was joined on stage by top influencers in transportation and other Ford executives, including Marcy Klevorn, president of mobility, to highlight the company’s road to the future. She asked those attending CES 2018 to work with the company to build systems that improve “transit choreography”.

 

Ford reminds us that over the past century, the automobile turned out to be the ultimate disruptor to human’s lives and our civic way of life. In one of his earliest ads, Henry Ford declared that he wanted to open the highways "for all humankind". This gave people new freedom to travel great distances and to get around town like never before but also gave rise to new industries and thousands of new companies.


The motor company points out though that, over time, towns and cities were designed around the automobile, roads overtook the community centres and where people once gathered in the streets and town squares, “there are now highways and multi-lane roads”.

 

Worst of all, though, it highlighted the amount of time wasted because of congestion and traffic: “Thirty years ago, we spent an average of 16 hours in traffic per year. Now, we spend 38 hours. The price we paid for the freedom to move was the creation of a world where roads were built for cars," said Ford.


Hackett’s views have sparked interesting debate in smart city circles. In response, Russell Goodenough, client managing director of the transport sector for Fujitsu, said that technology companies, the government, vehicle manufacturers and transport operators need to ensure that, as we develop autonomous vehicles, we also need to decide on the approach that will most benefit our cities, towns and wider country.

“Whilst we may not need to “rebuild” our cities, there is no denying that we need to prepare our transport infrastructure – everything from road signs to timetables. But this can only happen if the public are on board, which implies government-led education schemes similar to that seen a decade ago with the digital switchover,” he said.

 

“After all, a more informed education into these changes will be fundamental in shaping the public’s understanding of connected and driverless cars, since at present, according to Fujitsu’s own research, over two-fifths of the UK public would be uncomfortable being picked up by a driverless car, with less than two-in-ten happy to put their child in one.

Goodenough stresses that we also need to consider how we can adapt the infrastructure we already have to accommodate a proliferation of data. “One example is the need for hyperconnectivity at the roadside and trackside, whether by new fibre-optics or vastly improved cellular communications,” he said. “Through this approach specifically, messages can be transmitted to dashboards to improve road efficiency, whilst connected vehicles can be programmed to spot potholes and communicate with road operators.

 

“This is an important step in putting the connectivity in place that will eventually support driverless cars on the roads."

If you like this, you might be interested in reading the following:

 

e-Bike programme for San Francisco

Bike-share operator Motivate is launching a pilot programme of 250 Ford GoBike branded GenZe electric bicycles to its fleet in the city

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Ford expands to tackle cities’ transportation challenges

The company is acquiring San Francisco-based shuttle service Chariot and collaborating with bike-sharing provider Motivate

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Ford aims to introduce fully driverless car for ride-sharing in 2021

The carmaker is joining forces with four start-ups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development

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