At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ford chairman William Clay Ford explained the company's vision of mobility in the future. His keynote speech titled "Blueprint for Mobility" highlighted the dovetail connection between automotive industry and telecommunications. At the event, the OEM also demonstrated its Sync infotainment platform which is about to be introduced into European markets.
In order to avoid a global traffic breakdown, mobility requires intelligent, networked solutions, Ford said. In this context, he a called for tight collaboration between automotive and telecommunications industries. "No enterprise and no industry branch alone can provide the answers to the mobility requirements of the future", he said. Telecommunications will take the decisive role in driving user acceptance for innovative solutions.
"The telecommunications providers need to develop interdisciplinary systems to enable traffic systems in which the cars do not only intelligently communicate among each other but also with the traffic infrastructure". For this reason, Ford should regard cars as a "rolling smartphones" and as network node, he said.
In the mean term, significantly more powerful sensors and electronic controls will enable more interaction between the cars. This, in turn, will help to reduce the number of traffic fatalities. By the same token, they will enable semi-autonomous driving on highways including access roads as well as during lane changes.
Vehicle-to-cloud-based navigation systems will help improve not only the fuel efficiency but also the time efficiency - future cars will make suggestions for alternative roads or even alternative transport means in the case of traffic congestion. One of the IT infrastructure measures towards this end will be an integrated mobility network. A central element of this network will be a data base to which all traffic participants will be logged in.
In the long term - beyond the year 2025 - inter-modal traffic networks will combine several mobility technologies to an embracing, resource-saving mobility solution. Cars will have an "autopilot" mode that enables them to reach their destinations automatically. Once they will be arrived, they autonomously will search an nearby parking lot - and as soon as they are used, they also return automatically to their drivers and pick them up.
At a more practical level, Ford Motor Company presented its Sync infotainment platform in Europe. In the US, the platform is already available; now the company plans to offer it also in Europe. The first car model equipped with the Sync will be the new B-Max, available from autumn 2012.
The platform is equipped with an emergency assistant which triggers smartphones connected via Bluetooth to transmit emergency signals if an airbag has been fired or if the fuel pump has been deactivated automatically by an accident sensor. Once the accident is detected, the emergency assistant polls the navigation system for the vehicle's location and determines which language to use. Unlike other emergency assistants on the market, the Sync does not require that the driver has been registered to a mobile radio provider.
Other Sync features include MP3 player connectivity via USB interface and reading out text messages. Drivers can use a number of pre-configured phrases to answer these text messages by means of the integrated voice control.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.