Ford Motor Co. is pressing forward in the technological realm, which it made clear Tuesday in Las Vegas at CES®, the annual consumer electronics show of the Consumer Technology Association. According to David Gilbert, writing for International Business Times, Ford CEO Mark Fields said:
I predict that 2016 is going to be a revolutionary year for the auto industry and transportation, the year that we are going to see major breakthroughs that change the way the world moves.
One such breakthrough is Ford’s plan to have cars and “smart homes” communicating with each other, Antuan Goodwin wrote for the website c|net. That would be done by connecting Ford’s SyncConnect and AppLink services with Amazon’s home automation hub and its Alexa voice concierge service. For example:
The command ‘Alexa, ask my Ford for the charge status of my spoken to the cylindrical tower [Amazon Echo] was met with a robotic response communicating the current battery level of the plug-in hybrid and the estimated EV range.
Expanding Autonomous Fleet
Fields also announced that Ford would be tripling its fleet of autonomous vehicles to 30, Alex Colon wrote for PC. The tripling makes Ford the car manufacturer with the largest self-driving development fleet. It’s been testing the fleet on roads in Arizona, California, and Michigan.
Colon quoted Ford Chief Technology Officer Raj Nair as saying:
With more autonomous vehicles on the road, we are accelerating the development of software algorithms that serve to make our vehicles even smarter.
Fields said Ford may bring its driverless cars to market in 2020. Noting that some pundits say that date may be too ambitious, John Curran of the consulting firm Accenture told International Business Times that auto experts agree that widespread adoption of driverless cars will happen by 2030. However, Curran said that 2020 may be possible if regulatory and legal hurdles are not too difficult.
Although some people were expecting Fields to announce a partnership between Ford and Google to build some of Google’s fleet of test vehicles, Fields did not. He did, however, hint at such a partnership:
We will continue to work with others, not just on vehicles for retail customers but also on autonomous vehicles to provide transportation as a service and that includes customers who might not own a vehicle in the future, such as the young, the elderly or those looking for an alternative to mass transit.
Ford could be holding its Google announcement until the Detroit Auto Show, which takes place next week.