Amazon, autonomy and drones feature in Ford's automotive future


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 07 Jan 2016

Ahead of its keynote address at this year's CES, Ford has offered a sneak peek at where it believes the car is heading. 

The biggest single announcement is that it is tripling the size of its autonomous driving test fleet, meaning that soon there will be 30 Fusion Hybrid models driving themselves on roads around America. 

"Using the most advanced technology and expanding our test fleet are clear signs of our commitment to make autonomous vehicles available for millions of people," said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice-president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer. 

"With more autonomous vehicles on the road, we are accelerating the development of software algorithms that serve to make our vehicles even smarter." 

While no one expects fully autonomous vehicles to become a reality before 2025, the connected car is already here and offering owners access to everything from real-time traffic reports and news headlines, to remote control operation of smart home appliances. 

"Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move," said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. 

Therefore Ford has started exploring how its existing Sync system can link up and work with platforms like Amazon's Echo smart hub. 

Swiss design lab Rinspeed is showcasing an autonomous car concept that comes with its own drone for fetching pizza or scouting the road ahead at this year's CES, however, Ford is clearly thinking along the same lines. 

It is working with professional drone system and software firm DJI and with the United Nations, on a system that will let vehicles communicate with and guide drones in real time. 

The idea is that no terrain could get in the way of first responders or disaster teams. When the road stops, the drone starts. 

"We are driving innovation in every part of our business to help make people's lives better," said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. 

"Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference, with vehicles and drones working together for a common good." — AFP Relaxnews

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