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Ford launches seven UK projects with Smart Mobility Plan

Date: 07 January 2015   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Ford has announced it is to conduct 25 mobility experiments around the world - seven of which will take place in London - this year to test innovative transportation ideas.

The announcement took place at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as part of its Smart Mobility Plan which the company said will "use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data".

Ford said the experiments are designed to anticipate what customers will want in and need in the future transportation ecosystem.  Ford's projects will address four global 'trends' - population growth, expanding middle class, air quality and health concerns and changing customer attitudes and priorities.

"We see a world where vehicles talk to one another, drivers and vehicles communicate with the city infrastructure to relieve congestion, and people routinely share vehicles or multiple forms of transportation for their daily commute," said Ford president and chief executive Mark Field. "The experiments we're undertaking today will lead to an all-new model of transportation and mobility within the next 10 years and beyond."

The London experiments are:

City driving on-demand:

An experiment to understand what's needed for a more flexible and integrated car-sharing scheme, which is currently in a pilot user phase using electric and 1.0-litre Ecoboost Focus models which are reserved via a mobile phone app or call centre.

Ford said the cars are unlocked via the app or membership card and can be accessed 24/7, with it being priced per minute with fuel, insurance and the Congestion Charge included.

Data-driven insurance:

This will involve monitoring individual vehicle, so there is the potential to create a personalised insurance quote and reduce costs.

A smartphone app is used to track the location of the vehicle, fuel levels and other vehicle conditions. Ford said the data gathered could help identify congestion and help authorities help improve traffic flow.

Dynamic social shuttle:

Ford said this is an on-demand pay-as-you-go shared service ride offering point-to-point journeys, which the American car maker claimed is more convenient and better value than a taxi.

Painless parking:

A smartphone app developed with a local authority which Ford said can help a driver find a suitable parking space based on profile preferences, the real-time availability of spaces and their location.

 Ford autonomous vehicles

Ford also announced it is testing a full autonomous Fusion Hybrid on the roads. It uses the same technology as the company's semi-autonomous vehicles, adding four LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map of the surrounding area.

Ford said it can sense vehicles around it using the sensors, and uses algorithms to help it predict where vehicles and pedestrians may move.

"Our priority is not in making marketing claims or being in a race for the first autonomous car on the road," Fields said. "Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers' lives.