During his 2015 International CES keynote, Ford chief executive officer Mark Field outlined the company’s new initiative, a set of 25 experiments designed to test out innovative ideas that address an array of driving issues including urban congestion and air quality.
The initiatives include creating an electric vehicle charging station infrastructure at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, facility so the company can use electric vehicles for an employee car-sharing program; an app that finds available parking spaces for London commuters; and a program that analyzes vehicle data and patterns of London drivers so insurance companies can offer individualized—and potentially lower—coverage rates.
Fourteen of the 25 experiments are Ford-led research projects, and the rest are part of the company’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series, where innovators and developers from around the world are invited to create solutions for specific mobility challenges.
Fields notes, “Even as we showcase connected cars and share our plans for autonomous vehicles, we are here at CES with a higher purpose. We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago. We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and where people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute.”
At an earlier press event Fields predicted there would be a fully autonomous vehicle available within five years. During his keynote, Fields stressed that Ford’s goal isn’t to be the first with an autonomous car but to build and market the autonomous car people can buy. “To be clear, our priority at Ford is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road. Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing our customers’ lives.”
Acknowledging that many of the initiatives collect extensive data, Fields also emphasized Ford’s commitment to consumer privacy. “We believe customers own their data,” he said. “We may ask to use the data, but only with explicit opt-in and full transparency.”