Ford’s Connected Car Concepts

The Automaker Showcases Its Vision at International CES 2016

Ford_lA growing number of car makers are moving to keep up with the sector’s evolution. One such company is Ford, which made several announcements at International CES 2016 that showcased its vision of a vehicle that talks to everything.

The automaker unveiled a partnership with Toyota for its now open-source SmartDeviceLink (see International CES 2016: Major Themes), and revealed a deal with Amazon in efforts to further digitalize its vehicles. The latter will combine Ford’s Sync connectivity system with Amazon’s Echo voice recognition, enabling users to ask Alexa (Amazon’s cloud-based voice service) to carry out functions like starting their car or evaluating the vehicle’s electric range. Drivers will also be able to ask Alexa to open their garage doors before they arrive home, for example.

It’s one of the most high-profile announcements to date, outlining how the connected car could work with the connected home. We expect to see similar concepts in the near future as both segments enjoy strong growth and development.

Ford also has a relationship with DJI, a Chinese manufacturer of drones, as part of a developer challenge to create communication between DJI products and Ford cars. DJI is well known for such contests, which focus on a variety of themes and have resulted in a number of highly innovative apps. The collaboration is sure to generate some original solutions, such as the suggested initiative for crisis areas whereby drones take off from and land on the beds of Ford pick-up trucks and relay critical information to the driver.

The rumoured partnership between Ford and Alphabet (Google’s parent) was perhaps the most anticipated announcement in the run-up to International CES 2016. The deal reportedly concerned Alphabet providing Ford with its cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology, though this wasn’t revealed at the show. However, heavy speculation suggests that it’s only a matter of time before Alphabet licenses its technology to Ford or another car manufacturer. More information may be given at Mobile World Congress 2016 as Ford’s president and CEO Mark Field is a keynote speaker at the event.

We’ve previously predicted that Google will emulate its Android model in the automotive sector, taking the opportunity to amass user data from a new source while allowing traditional car-makers to access the pinnacle of autonomous technology with minimal investment. We’re already starting to see signs of this, though nothing is concrete.

The automotive industry is undergoing rapid changes as it adapts to a more connected world. Ford and its rivals are anticipating the coming shifts in the market, and we expect many rivals to follow suit in 2016 and beyond.