Ford unveiled a suite of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show today that are aimed at furthering the company’s ambitions to power smart cities and find new applications for autonomous vehicles.
The announcements focus on providing cities with cloud services to better understand the autonomous vehicles zooming around their streets, building hardware for vehicles to communicate with one another, and testing new services that are powered by self-driving cars. They’re powered by a series of partnerships with companies like Postmates, Qualcomm, and Autonomic.
It’s all part of Ford’s work to expand beyond its traditional business of making cars into a future where the vehicle driving down the street is only one part of a larger ecosystem backed by high-tech services.
An infrastructure project of that scale will require a backend, and that’s what Ford is aiming to provide with its Transportation Mobility Cloud. Created in partnership with Autonomic, a Silicon Valley startup, the Cloud is supposed to provide building blocks for creating smart city applications, like real-time traffic flow routing based on data from sensors in vehicles roaming the streets.
Speaking of communicating vehicles, Ford and Qualcomm are working together on a system called Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X), which will enable cars that have cellular chips to communicate with one another, as well as to a set of outside services. This is important for applications like autonomous cars, because C-V2X vehicles would be able to do things like communicate intent to other vehicles around them, which could then respond accordingly.
Ford also outlined its vision for autonomous vehicles today, starting with a partnership announcement with Postmates. Like the company’s existing work with Lyft and Domino’s, the two businesses will team up to figure out how autonomous vehicles can help change the business of local delivery.
That’s just one piece of Ford’s overall strategy, though: The company will be deploying autonomous vehicles in more cities this year as part of a pilot program based on a new software platform the company has been developing. Details on that strategy will be announced later this year.