Farid Ahmed-Zaid won’t rest until the car he drives can talk to another one nearby. He’s in a great position to help make sure it happens as an intelligent vehicles technical expert for Ford Motor Company.
Ahmed-Zaid, 49, works as part of the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) consortium, co-led by Ford, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and organizes major automakers for intelligent vehicle research. He said that because the automakers and government are working so closely together, vehicle-to-vehicle technology is likely to become reality.
“I walk a very fine line between cooperation and competition,” said Ahmed-Zaid. “I have to, though, because we need both to develop this technology as quickly and affordably as possible.”
Ahmed-Zaid has two roles in the development of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology.
Within the consortium, Ahmed-Zaid is responsible for leading the technical work and cooperation among the members. That team is developing technology so that cars can effectively connect regardless of brand.
At Ford he helps the company develop proprietary methods for how cars may use wireless communications. This includes developing unique Ford technologies to enhance safety, help reduce traffic congestion and make driving more enjoyable.
Ahmed-Zaid came to the United States from Algeria in 1984, when he was 23 years old. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1987 and a doctorate in electrical engineering from USC in 1993.
Early in his Ford career, Ahmed-Zaid worked on adaptive cruise control, which uses radar to adjust a vehicle’s speed in relation to other nearby vehicles while using a cruise control function. That technology was launched in 1999. Since then he’s been working on intelligent vehicles, including future generations of vehicle crash avoidance systems based on wireless communication.
Ahmed-Zaid has been with Ford for 19 years but said it wasn’t until recently that he began to realize the impact of his work.
“It really hits you when your neighbor starts talking about things such as radar technologies that are now pretty common, but were once highly confidential projects you worked on,” said Ahmed-Zaid. “Of course, it’s gratifying to see the technology we develop make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable.”
He is proud of the milestones, such as when the technical consortium first successfully established a connection between two vehicles. Next up, he is excited that his team is building the first dedicated intelligent vehicles that will tour the country to help explain the technology to the public.
“I’m always conscious of what is happening. I try to say to myself, ‘Okay, I should probably remember this point in time because it’s pretty special and important,’” he said.
He also enjoys scoring goals on a soccer field. A lifelong fan and soccer player, Ahmed-Zaid participates in an adult league that plays around southeast Michigan. And he said that anyone who knows him knows not to bother him during the World Cup, soccer’s biggest event held every four years.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.
Jan. 27, 2011