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MWC16: Ford expands connected vehicle ecosystem

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, auto supplier Ford expands its Smart Mobility programme and launches a connected vehicle

Motor manufacturer Ford announced a number of enhancements to its Smart Mobility connected vehicle programme, confirmed the release of its SYNC 3 connectivity technology in Europe later this year, and launched a connected Kuga sports utility vehicle (SUV).

On the opening day of Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Ford’s CEO Mark Fields delivered a keynote focusing on the company’s transition from a traditional automobile company to a mobility company. This is through the Smart Mobility programme, a plan focused on driving innovation in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles.

“As we look to the future, it is clear we are on the cusp of a revolution in mobility – from car sharing to autonomous driving to the customer experience,” said Fields.

“Technology and innovation provide us with the opportunity to address these trends and to make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”

Fields also launched customer experience platform called FordPass. Its partners include BP and mobile parking payment company Mobile City, which also integrates its own car-sharing programme with German car-sharing app Flinkster.

Besides finding petrol stations and car-sharing, FordPass will help owners proactively manage their vehicle’s maintenance schedule, access knowledgeable guides and get access to loyalty programmes with other partner brands, such as burger chain McDonalds.

In the UK, its Smart Mobility programme also includes a pilot of predictive parking, which directs drivers to streets where they are more likely to find a parking space. The programme is currently under trial in the London Borough of Islington, while a car-sharing pilot now has 25 hubs in London.

Meanwhile, the latest generation of its Kuga SUV model will include its SYNC 3 communications and entertainment systems. It will also have connected vehicle applications, including Perpendicular Parking, which allows hands free parking; its Active City Stop collision avoidance system; and Adaptive Front Lighting for low-light conditions.

Driver assistance

The manufacturer said it would triple its investment in driver assist technology to make it easier to drive in heavy traffic. This is a significant step along the road to fully autonomous vehicles, which are still not expected for some time.

Ford laid out its paths to vehicle automation at Mobile World Congress, announcing Traffic Jam Assist, which will help drivers with steering, braking and acceleration on congested urban motorways by sensing and keeping pace with the vehicle in front. It also announced Fully Active Parking, for both reverse and perpendicular parking.

It previously launched a pre-collision alert system that can detect pedestrians in the road ahead, and an intelligent speed limiter.

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Ken Washington, vice-president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: “We are committed to making autonomous vehicles available for millions of people.”

“In well-defined areas and with favourable environmental conditions, we predict that fully autonomous driving will be possible in four years. Autonomous vehicles will play a significant role in making travel safer, more enjoyable and more accessible,” he said.

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