In recent weeks, the Ford Motor Company has been blizzarding the Intertubes with news timed around the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and now the iconic US automaker is taking its wares to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. So, did Ford exhaust itself in Vegas, or has it saved some eyeball-popping news for Detroit?
Our money is on Detroit of course, and since Ford has once again graciously invited CleanTechnica to come to NAIAS 2016 and attend its special insidery events, there will be lots to report.
Cars Invade Consumer Electronics Show
Ford isn’t the only auto manufacturer to launch news at CES 2016. The meta-news out of the event is the integration of consumer electronics into the driving experience, making CES a logical showcase for new mobility products.
That’s true even of gasmobiles, and even moreso when you replace a gas tank with a battery or a fuel cell, transforming a car into a rather large home appliance that can move around.
CleanTechnica caught wind of Ford’s mobile home appliance approach back in 2013 when the company launched its MyEnergi auto-to-home connectivity system, and at CES 2016, Ford took it to the next level by announcing a new “smart home” partnership with Amazon (no news about Google, as some had hoped).
We also took note back in 2013 when Ford rolled out its autonomous driving research vehicle, which sported sleek but somewhat large-ish roof-mounted sensors. Fast forward to CES 2016, and there is Ford unveiling its powerful new “best in the world” sensors, humorously dubbed Ultra Puck, which are now small enough to mount discretely on a sideview mirror.
Mobility And Beyond
Ford has been undergoing a transformation from a simple manufacturer of vehicles into a full-service mobility company, as ably demonstrated by its recent announcements. One that caught our eye was the January 5 launch of a startup competition under the Ford-sponsored Techstars Mobility umbrella:
Up to 12 startups will receive $120,000 in funding and three months of mentoring and training to develop ideas and solutions aligned with Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, as well as data and analytics.
As with the Energy Department’s SunShot Catalyst contest, the idea behind the competition is to spot startups that lack the experience and/or funding to wade through a more formal application or presentation process, and provide them with some seed money and support to keep the R&D process going and dive into commercialization as quickly as possible. Here’s the friendly reminder at the Techstars Mobility space that helpful people are available:
Another recent announcement that caught our eye is a partnership between Ford and leading drone maker DJI, for another competition that seamlessly mashes up drones, vehicles, and smartphones:
Working with DJI, the world leader in professional-grade drone systems and software, Ford invites innovators to participate in the DJI Developer Challenge to create drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford SYNC® AppLink or OpenXC.
Eventually, the aim is to fulfill the drone-to-vehicle dream for the consumer market, but for this particular contest, Ford is aiming squarely at emergency response in tandem with the United Nations:
…The goal is a surveying system for the United Nations Development Program to inspect emergency zones inaccessible to even the most versatile vehicles.
The technology could allow United Nations first responders to earthquakes or tsunamis to quickly deploy drones able to survey and map hardest-hit areas – all from the cab of an F-150.
That would be the all-aluminum F-150, by the way:
If you’re a drone fan and an F-150 fan, that’s dreamy, right? Ok, so maybe not as dreamy as the pre-production GT supercar Ford unveiled at NAIAS 2015…
…but still pretty cool.
As for the big news at NAIAS 2016, Ford has been teasing everybody with quickie, no-narration videos of its production-ready “magnetic by design” GT as well as Fusion and Focus EVs, so the company clearly does have a few more tricks up its automotive sleeves.
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Photo and Screenshot credits: all via Ford Motor Company except GT at NAIAS 2015 by Tina Casey.
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