Ford makes progress in autonomous vehicle tech; collaborates for wearables

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Fords’ autonomous vehicle technology programme has taken a major leap as the company has announced that their research efforts have transformed into an advanced engineering program with a dedicated team now working on the technology under the capable hands of Randy Visintainer.

The company announced that its Research and Innovation Center at Palo Alto is working to deliver the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which aims to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development revealed that over the course of next five years, the company will be bringing in driver-assist technologies to their product lineup to help make our roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability.

Ford revealed that its autonomous driving technology has now entered the second phase and through its advanced engineering program its team will be working to make the required sensing and computing technology feasible for production and continuing testing and refinement of algorithms.

Ford also revealed that its Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection technology, which is already available on Ford Mondeo in Europe, will be available in the United States next year on a Ford-brand vehicle. This continues Ford’s plan to roll out the feature on most Ford products globally by 2019.

Carbon3D CLIP technology

Ford is collaborating with start-ups and other key players in Silicon Valley to make mobility solutions accessible to millions of people worldwide.

Since December 2014, the company has been working with Redwood City-based Carbon3D – which developed Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) – a 3D printing technology that grows parts from UV curable resins at speeds as much as 25 to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. The resulting parts boast mechanical properties that are applicable for a range of needs for Ford vehicles including high-quality automotive-grade parts.

“Our ability to innovate depends on how quickly we can move from idea to production,” Nair said. “This technology enables us to quickly create automotive-grade parts for product design prototypes – and perhaps even production parts – faster than ever before, so we can deliver new vehicles to customers even sooner.”

Carbon3D technology uses engineering resins able to damp vibrations, support loads or withstand high temperatures.

Using the technology, Ford produced elastomer grommets for the Ford Focus Electric and damping bumper parts for the Transit Connect.

Ford boosting connectivity, too

Ford also has been working to extend connectivity innovations to wearable technology.

The company developed a MyFord Mobile app extension coming soon for smartwatches – including Android Wear.

The MyFord Mobile application, already available for smartphones, will provide customers the ability to check the driving range and battery charge for their plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle quickly from their wrists before they leave on a trip, and to even find the location where they last parked.

Ford also recently announced its all-new SYNC® 3 communications and entertainment system will debut in North America on the 2016 Ford Escape, Fiesta, F-150, Mustang and Transit. SYNC 3 features faster performance, conversational voice recognition, intuitive smartphone-like touch screen and easier-to-understand graphical interface.

Ford was first to bring voice control to smartphone apps with AppLink™, and the experience is further improved with the touch screen interface experience of SYNC 3. AppLink allows customers to connect their smartphone and control their compatible apps using voice commands or buttons on the touch screen display. The first apps to launch with the new SYNC 3 AppLink experience are Spotify, Pandora, Glympse, Accuweather and iHeartAuto.