Car Tech: Ford looks to the future
Ford invited me to its research labs in Dearborn, MI to get an advance look at the future of technology in Ford vehicles. It was clear to me that Ford has now become as much a technology company as a car company.
The complexity of the voice command system and its often lack of intuitiveness has been a major complaint. The current Ford SYNC voice system understands more than 10,000 first level commands, unfortunately it doesn’t always understand them the way we like to say them.
That kind of intuitive system is coming soon as Ford works with the leader in voice technology, NUANCE to improve how we communicate with Ford vehicles. It is a huge challenge; even though the in-car computers are powerful they can’t compare with the huge servers that drive the systems we hear when we phone our utility companies. Still the Ford/Nuance work is already showing up in current models.
By far the most spectacular demonstration I saw was Ford’s work in accident avoidance technology. Current systems with a range of about 30 meters really only warn an inatentive driver of things he or she should see..such as a vehicle in the blind spot, following too close or lane drifting. The technology I saw puts a bubble of security 360 meters around the car. It warns you of things you can’t see..for example that a car in front of the truck you are following has braked suddenly giving you advance warniong the the truck is going to do the same. This kind of technology will save lives.
This technology will become mandatory in vehicles sold in the US within two years and will start showing up in cars in the 2019-2020 model years.
This is only a part of the exciting stuff I saw in Dearborn so watch for more on my visit in a few days.