HomeAutonomous VehiclesFord’s Smart Mobility plan gains momentum

Ford’s Smart Mobility plan gains momentum

Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford announced its Smart Mobility plan consisting of 25 global experiments to change the way the world moves. These experiments are really taking the concept of mobility beyond that of traditional car ownership and usage. Fourteen of the experiments will be led by Ford.

The remaining 11 activities are the winners of Ford’s Innovate Mobility Challenge series. The winners come from the Americas, China, Africa, Europe, Australia and India.Map of Experiements

The topics of the experiments and challenges tend to align with the expected categories – car sharing, parking and traffic, big data, and electric and autonomous vehicles – but some approach these topics in really novel ways. Read on for the highlights of the topics.

Ford-led experiments:

  • City Driving on Demand – Electric vehicle car share, London.
  • CarSwap – A Ford-owned fleet aimed at businesses sharing different vehicle types within their fleet based on vehicle needed for a specific activity, Michigan.
  • Dynamic Social Shuttle – City mini-bus on demand, London and New York City.
  • ShareCar – Partnering with Zoom Car to allow a set group of friends or workers to regularly share a car without having to purchase it, India.
  • Remote Repositioning – Valet golf carts that can drive to your location to pick you up via streaming video over LTE, in partnership with Georgia Tech. This one looks like fun.

  • Ford Carshare – 55 cities, 39 dealers and in partnership with Flinkster. Along the lines of traditional carsharing but enabled through regional dealerships.
  • Painless Parking – Volunteers plug a device into their dash that collects parking data to allow other users to locate and pay for parking, London.
  • Parking Spotter – Also in partnership with Georgia Tech, this experiment uses the parking assist that already exists in vehicles to find available parking spots to be shared with others via an app.
  • Data Driven Insurance – Collects driver data to allow for customized insurance packages to be offered, London.
  • Big Data Drive – 200 Ford employee volunteers allow their driving habits to be collected in order to define future vehicle features and offers, Michigan.
  • Info Cycle – Bike sensor kits that track bike usage to define future mobility programs, California and Michigan.
  • Fleet Insights – 100 Hewlett-Packard employee volunteers allow fleet usage habits to be tracked for future program development, Michigan.
  • Rapid Recharge and Share – Electric vehicle program that partners with retail and dining establishments to enable rapid recharging to help advance adoption of electric vehicle car sharing, Michigan.
  • Data Driven Health Care – In partnership with Riders for Health in West Africa, enabling a health care related fleet to ensure medical care can reach those who require it.

Based on this week’s announcement regarding the expansion of the GoDrive pilot in London to a generally available service, it seems the experiments are already beginning to bear fruit. The pilot initially had 100 trial members and is now expanding to allow for 2,000 people to join across 20 locations. Based on a recent study commissioned by Ford, London has the worst commuting averages in Europe with high stress and 1 in 3 employees being regularly late to work due to their commute. CommutersInnovate Mobility Challenges:

  • LA Parking Lot 2.0 – won by CrowdPark, a crowd-sourced parking application from California.
  • Traffic Tamer – won by Appyparking, a London-based crowd-sourced tool for parking and traffic situations.
  • City Mobility – won by Smartaxi in Portugal. This is a taxi tool that creates heat maps to predict where taxis will be needed in the near future and directs them to that area.
  • Future of Mobility – won by Urban Shuttle of Argentina. Two-person people movers that travel on a bus-shaped car carrier in the city. This one needs the video to do it justice, quite creative.

  • Accessory – won by Secondary Power Management Systems of South Africa. A secondary power source in your vehicle, which allows lights, refrigeration or communications, for example, to run when the engine is turned off.
  • Australia Accessory is not awarded at this point but is aimed at creating secondary support when in remote areas – if there is a problem with your vehicle – to still have power to stay warm/cool, call for help, have lights, etc.
  • Monsoon App Downpour – won by Mumbai Monsoon Helper of India. Crowd-sourced flooding application to help show where there are problem areas and reroute your travel.
  • Sumurr Golden Hour – won by Flare of India. We’ve all heard about the “golden hour” after an accident; receiving medical treatment within an hour is key to survivability and recovery. This app is about reporting an accident that has happened and alerting volunteers in the area to help while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive. A large issue in this region, 30% of traffic accidents in Delhi in 2011 resulted in fatalities.
  • Urban Commuter – won by Parkopedia. This app addresses China’s parking challenges.
  • Mobility Integration – won by Multimodel Transportation Platform, also in China. This tool brings together different modes of transportation to plan the best process for getting from point A to point B using all options available.
  • Sumurr mHealth – won by Simprints Solutions for Community Health Workers in India. Basically a tool to track medial activities – births, deaths, treatments, etc., in order to link medical records to patients being treated in their homes.

To go into each of these programs in more detail would be too lengthy for this format. A map of all of the experiments along with more detail on the individual activities can be downloaded via this link. I will be watching for more news from Ford as these experiments grow into real-life services. This is an exciting move for an OEM to take on something this far-reaching and work with so many small startups.

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Claudia Bacco, Managing Director – EMEA for RCR Wireless News, has spent her entire career in telecom, IT and security. Having experience as an operator, software and hardware vendor and as a well-known industry analyst, she has many opinions on the market. She’ll be sharing those opinions along with ongoing trend analysis for RCR Wireless News.

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