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Ford Continues Development of Smart Mobility Plan with Research Partnerships, Enhancements

Earlier this week, Ford’s vision for the future of personal mobility was on display at CES Asia in Shanghai.

Earlier this week, Ford’s vision for the future of personal mobility was on display at CES Asia in Shanghai. Presentations included were Ford Smart Mobility experiments, the latest in in-car connectivity technologies and the introduction of its MyEnergi Lifestyle program — launched in the US in 2013 to demonstrate how typical families can significantly reduce their electricity bills and carbon footprint by integrating smart home appliance technology with a plug-in vehicle and solar power — to China.

Ford also announced that it will open GoDrive — its London-based car-sharing mobility experiment — to the public, inviting 2,000 members of the public to have flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of 50 cars at 20 convenient locations throughout the city.

The first phase of Ford Smart Mobility is a series of experiments that address four global megatrends — rapid population growth, expanding middle class, air quality and public health concerns, and changing customer attitudes and priorities — and is working to address some limited personal mobility challenges.

“What we’re doing with Ford Smart Mobility is really getting hands-on with the exciting tech that will redefine the customer experience and power our new era of transportation,” said Jim Buczkowski, director of Electrical and Electronics Systems, Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford. “With the GoDrive London experiment, for example, we’re opening the program to the public, which will help us learn more about consumer needs and deliver the more efficient car-sharing system that drivers need and want.”

Initial findings from the first phase of the GoDrive experiment indicate that participants in car-sharing schemes consider one-way journeys, easy parking and simple pricing crucial components of a successful car-sharing program.

“We’re thrilled by the initial feedback from the GoDrive experiment, and are excited to work with even more drivers to learn how to best address their car-sharing needs,” said Buczkowski. “In today’s crowded cities, individual car ownership isn’t always the most affordable or convenient way to get around, and we’re experimenting in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific in order to optimize how car-sharing can increase mobility all over the world.”

Additional expansions include:

  • A mobility experiment in Bangalore, India in conjunction with ZoomCar, to create a model for easy vehicle-sharing among colleagues, apartment dwellers and families. The Bangalore Car-Share experiment is running in three Ford EcoSports that have been equipped for data collection.
  • The launch of the MyEnergi Lifestyle pilot program in Shanghai and Beijing resulting from a partnership with Haier, Trina Solar, Delta Electronics, Whirlpool and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). The program is a model that demonstrates how combining renewable energy sources, efficient home appliances and a plug-in vehicle can significantly reduce families’ energy costs and carbon footprint.
  • Researchers predict approximate cumulative savings of 63 percent in energy costs — a 40 percent and 69 percent drop in electric and gasoline bills, respectively, for estimated annual savings of RMB 9,400 — and a 45 percent decrease in CO2 output, for a total reduction of 6,828 kg. The model also predicts a significant impact on reducing emissions that lead to pollution, including a decreased output of harmful PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter by approximately 32 percent and 35 percent, respectively, and a reduction of both nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions by 38 percent.
  • The Remote Repositioning experiment has outfitted a golf cart owned by Georgia Tech with technology that allows them to be driven remotely, via a LTE streaming connection.
  • The Parking Spotter project leverages existing sonar and radar technology already available on Ford vehicles, and uses collected data to map parking information on the go. At speeds of less than 10 miles per hour, vehicles participating in the experiment act as roving probes and map open parking spots. This information is then uploaded to a cloud-based location, which drivers can access if they’re looking for a place to park.
  • A research partnership with Chongqing University and the Chongqing Engineering Research Center of Intelligent Transportation Systems to develop a more accurate and predictive model to enhance multi-modal transportation systems. Using 8,900 buses equipped with GPS monitors on 520 bus routes in Chongqing, the research project aims to reduce total travel time and energy consumption, and keep individuals better informed about wait times with more accurate real-time bus travel and arrival data.
  • An additional research alliance with the University of Michigan to explore consumers’ preference in choosing modes of transportation in Beijing’s multi-modal transportation system. Together, they will build on a study conducted in December 2012 for Portland, Oregon, to examine transportation habits and preferences relating to driving, biking, walking and the use of public transport. The research in Beijing will survey over 2,000 people, cover the area within all six of Beijing’s ring roads and include eight different modes of transportation.
  • The latest iteration of Ford’s in-car connectivity system, SYNC 3. The new system boasts faster performance, more conversational voice commands, a more intuitive touchscreen and an easier-to-understand interface to help customers control their in-car entertainment, climate settings, smartphone and more.
  • Three new partnerships to bring popular smartphone apps to the Ford AppLink platform: Ximalaya, and NetEase Music. Ximalaya is China’s leading provider of spoken audio entertainment, including news, audio books, stand-up comedy, radio programs and more; is an online public radio station that provides both live and on-demand programming from China National Radio; and NetEase is an online music streaming application.
  • Enhancements to Emergency Assistance, Ford’s subscription-free emergency feature that connects drivers to emergency operators via SYNC, will be brought to China. In the event of a collision where the airbag deploys or the fuel pump shut-off switch is activated, an emergency call is placed on the occupants’ behalf, announcing with a voice message that a Ford vehicle was in a collision, along with the GPS coordinates. These enhancements will provide additional life-saving information, including the type of crash (front, side, rear or rollover), safety belt usage as detected by the vehicle, awareness of whether multiple impacts occurred and whether airbags were deployed.