Ford asked developers to create software that would improve quality of life for urban and long-range commuters in congested cities such as Shanghai. Finding reasonably priced parking near favorite destinations, for example, has become more difficult as downtown areas grow.
This experiment studies a driver’s behavior over time in order to build a more personalized mobility profile. The goal is to create a driving behavior passport that can be used to calculate more exact insurance rates and allow drivers to take the information with them, from car to car or from insurance carrier to insurance carrier. Vehicle data might enable lower insurance rates for good drivers.
In Bangalore, Ford is working with Zoomcar to test a sharing concept that would allow small groups, such as co-workers, apartment dwellers and families, to share a vehicle among multiple drivers. The approach helps consumers who can’t afford a car but want the benefits of owning one. Researchers plan to develop a model for vehicle scheduling and managing ownership.
Using Georgia Tech-owned golf carts to prove out the technology, a person sitting in a remote location can access real-time video streamed over LTE to drive the carts. The outcome could be a more affordable and widely available valet parking service.
Electric vehicles would be beneficial as urban shared vehicles because they have lower operating costs and can be “refueled” in their parking space. But if a shared car is consistently being driven, it needs time to charge. Ford is investigating a partnership with a retail or fast-food business to develop a fast-charging infrastructure, making electric vehicles practical choices for car-sharing. The goal is to make electric vehicles easier to use, because when more people choose to drive one, everyone benefits from lower carbon emissions.
This experiment, conducted with Georgia Tech, leverages driver-assist sensors that most Ford vehicles already have, including sonar and radar, by putting them to work for everybody. The sensors search for open parking spaces while the driver looks for spots around the city, and share the information with a cloud database other drivers can access. The system makes it easier for a driver to locate an open spot, reserve it and navigate to the space. It also reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
In London, Ford is working to make parking easier for drivers and the city. Drivers voluntarily use plug-in devices that create live data on traffic and parking. The City Dash app tells users whether they are legally parked. If not, the app recommends the nearest open spot. It allows drivers to pay for parking meters by mobile phone, and identifies the closest available parking spots to the driver’s final destination.
Engineers are working to develop sensor kits based on Ford OpenXC that gather information from bicycles and other common forms of transportation in urban areas. The devices gather data such as wheel speed, acceleration and altitude, among other information. The data could provide insight into how alternate modes of transportation might be best positioned to serve future urban mobility needs.
Ford engineers are working with HP, one of the world’s largest technology companies, to track the driving habits of 100 vehicles used nationwide by HP employees for work and personal commuting. The project will shed light on the purpose behind the trips, how drivers interact with external factors such as weather and traffic, and how to further personalize time behind the wheel. The data is gathered by devices plugged into the HP fleet vehicles and could lead to better products and services.
While there are many car-sharing services based on the reservation model, the focus of this experiment is on-demand use. Researchers are exploring how to optimize the service, such as offering pay-by-minute and enabling one-way trips across the city. A fleet of Ford Focus Electric vehicles and Ford Fiestas with EcoBoost powertrains is located across London. Users can register, get directions to the nearest service location, reserve a vehicle and pay – all through a mobile app. The London service targets a better customer experience and improved operational efficiency compared to existing car-sharing models. Car-sharing through the use of zero and low-emissions vehicles can reduce congestion and pollution.