Ford vending machine begins dispensing cars in China

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It is no longer enough simply to test-drive a vehicle by riding around the block while a salesperson gives you their well-rehearsed patter. Now, there needs to be some sort of theater around the purchase, or else how will you trick yourself into thin…
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Ford is betting on hybrid trucks and SUVs to pay for its smart future

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Upcoming Ford SUV

While Ford has spent much of the year talking about its plans for connected cars and cities, it’s back to talking about the trucks and SUVs it’s going to sell to consumers to pay for all that advanced technology. But Ford is striving to be known for its hybrid vehicles and steal thunder from every other company trying to get in the electric car game.

On Thursday, in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford’s head of global markets Jim Farley revealed the automaker’s product plans going into the next decade, most of which are trucks and SUVs that will feature a traditional hybrid system or be plug-ins of some kind. These vehicles will also be equipped with features such as 4G LTE from the end of next year and automatic emergency braking as Ford…

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Lights, camera, ID! Ford offers remote ID solution for drones

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ford present remote ID solution for drones

Car manufacturer Ford has announced a potential solution to the problem of identifying drones from a distance.

In the US, Ford is the sole representative of the automotive industry on the Federal Aviation  Administration’s (FAA) Rule-making Committee. Together with some of the biggest names in technology, transport, and aviation, the Committee is attempting to develop light-touch regulations that let the drone industry take off, without ignoring safety and security concerns.

Ford has proposed a solution to the longstanding problem of remote ID – namely, how to identify a drone that’s 50 or 500 metres away when its registration details are inscribed in tiny writing on its body.

Only once a remote ID system is in place can regulators safely integrate drones into the airspace, and organisations can start to think about harnessing the power of beyond-line-of-sight flights.

Read more: How Skydroid could protect prisons from drone smuggling

Ford’s light solution

Ford’s solution combines the 10-digit registration number that each pilot is given by the FAA, with anti-collision lights and a camera-based software application.

The result is a system that uses the lights to broadcast the drone’s 10-digit code in an ASCII-encoded binary signal at a baud rate. This miniature light show can be decoded using algorithms built with Google TensorFlow.

The accompanying app can run on a smartphone, potentially meaning the public would have the power to record, report, and help identify misbehaving drones.

According to Ford, “preliminary in-field tests show the system can consistently and accurately identify drones operating within 80 feet of an observer.”

The entire submission that Ford handed over to the FAA can be found in a whitepaper: A Zero-Cost Solution for Remote Identification and Tracking of sUAS in Low Altitude Flights.

Read more: Drone safety: EU aviation agency takes first steps toward regulation

Internet of Business says

The idea of using lights to transmit registration data is certainly a promising and interesting one. However, Ford’s assertion that the system is “zero cost” and “requires little to no modification of existing models” is disingenuous.

For starters, anti-collision lighting kits don’t come cheap. Because night flights remain all but banned without express permission from aviation authorities, they are not the kind of equipment that the majority of pilots – commercial or recreational – have at their disposal.

These lighting solutions also tend to be bulky, so there’s also a cost to performance issue to consider. But if the system was able to harness existing lights built into drones, that would be a different story.

Aside from the practicalities, Ford’s system offers an interesting approach to interactions between drones and the general public. On the one hand, it could improve pilot accountability by giving people the ability to use their smartphones to report rogue operators. But on the other, it could add to drone paranoia – a topic that turns up over 400,000 links on Google.

Ford’s intention is that its proposal will “ensure the safe and responsible use of drones in US airspace, while maintaining the bandwidth necessary for innovation.” However, it’s not clear how encouraging a culture of mass reporting would see this come to fruition.

Currently, DJI’s Aeroscope solution appears to trump Ford’s in terms of subtlety and effectiveness. It uses the existing, in-built command-and-control link between the remote and the drone to broadcast ID and telemetry data to nearby authorities.

By tracking a drone’s movements as well as identifying who it belongs to, Aeroscope offers more situational awareness.

Admittedly, it requires hardware on the ground to receive and decode that information. But that puts the costs on the side of the relevant authorities, and is balanced by the fact that DJI drones have already received patches to transmit the necessary data automatically.

The post Lights, camera, ID! Ford offers remote ID solution for drones appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Ford proposes remote drone-tracking system for the FAA

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This week's FAA drone symposium had an unlikely panelist: Ford. The automaker has been working with the agency to figure out how to track UAVs since last year, but unlike dronemaker DJI's proposal to force airborne craft to broadcast their ID and loc…
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Ford is setting up for an autonomous ride-hail and delivery business in Miami

An Argo AI-powered Ford vehicle driving down the streets of Miami.

The company is beginning to test its cars in a delivery service, mapping out the streets for a driverless ride-hail service, and has set up a fleet-management center.

Ford is laying the groundwork for its autonomous vehicle business in Miami, Fl. It’s a three-pronged approach that is still in its infancy, but includes a delivery pilot in partnership with Dominos and Postmates, testing self-driving cars around the city, and setting up a fleet-management center.

Many other companies in the self-driving space have begun testing both delivery and ride-hail services, but few have established dedicated fleet-management centers that will facilitate the maintenance and operation of these driverless vehicles. Determining how best to manage a fleet of driverless vehicles will figure largely in any company’s ability to launch and expand its service.

Without drivers, the company has to determine who or what will take on both the responsibility and the costs of maintaining these vehicles. There’s no longer an Uber driver in the front seat to take the car to get detailed on their own dime.

Sherif Marakby, Ford’s VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification, said the company has yet to decide whether it will operate this network of fleet-management centers on its own or partner with another company.

“We can do it in many different ways,” Marakby told Recode. “We’re going to be open to that, but for us to learn how it works and what the issues are, we needed to do it on our own for the first time.”

Other companies have opted to work with car-rental companies with an existing network of locations.

Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo, for instance partnered with Avis — a deal that gives Waymo access to both places to store their cars when they’re not in use, as well as a nationwide web of maintenance and repair shops. Apple, long rumored to be working on self-driving cars, struck a deal with Hertz. General Motors, on the other hand, operates its own car-sharing service called Maven that could serve the same purpose for its self-driving arm, Cruise.

This self-driving terminal, as Marakby referred to it, helps build a foundation upon which Ford can launch both its driverless ride-hail and delivery services by 2021. Marakby contends that this announcement indicates that Ford has launched its business in the city.

“We’re not announcing going to our first city,” he said. “We’re announcing that we are in the first city. We have a depot, we’re mapping the city and we’re operating a business.”

However, the other two prongs of its launch are largely foundational.

Like most other companies in the self-driving space, Ford will begin testing its self-driving cars on public roads. In Miami, however, the cars — powered by self-driving startup Argo.AI, which Ford bought a majority stake in — are still mostly mapping out the city’s streets for now. The company said they are also operating in a closed loop in autonomous mode.

Those cars will eventually be available in a commercial ride-hail network. The company recently partnered with Lyft and is currently working on creating the interface for the system and the API into the company’s network, Marakby said. There’s no word on when consumers will be able to hail a Ford vehicle on the Lyft app just yet.

At the same time, Ford is beginning a test of its delivery partnerships with Dominos and Postmates, but it won’t be autonomous at first. Instead, the company is simply trying to learn more about the customer interactions with a delivery vehicle. The company is attempting to understand things like how far customers are willing to walk to a car to get their delivery, for instance.

In the pilot phase, there will be two separate fleets dedicated to either delivery or ride-hail, but Marakby said that could change once the company launches the businesses, depending on the volume of deliveries or goods that need to be delivered.

If a vehicle that Ford is building from the ground up to be autonomous has a high rate of utilization by a delivery partner, then it will likely only serve in that delivery partner’s fleet. If not, those vehicles could serve multiple purposes.

“By bringing all of our different development tracks together to test in unison, we’re putting ourselves in the best position to analyze our execution, determine what works well and improve what doesn’t,” Marakby wrote in a blog post. “This way, we can quickly expand our service and take it to other cities when the time comes.”

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Ford cars are getting a new ‘voice-controlled co-driver’ thanks to Sygic

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 Ford vehicles equipped with the automaker’s SYNC 3 infotainment system will soon have access to a new voice-powered driving assistant behind the wheel – Sygic’s new aptly named “Driving Assistant.” The feature, which works with Sygic’s GPS navigation app, is described as a “voice-controlled co-driver that helps the driver identify nearby rest-stops… Read More
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Ford adds Waze to its Sync 3 AppLink for iOS users

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 While some carmakers and others worry about Google’s domination in mapping and how that will play out in the auto industry, we are continuing to see announcements that point, if not to Google’s influence growing, its place in the market and how some may be testing the waters for more. Today, Ford announced that it is integrating the Waze traffic and navigation app into its Sync… Read More
Mobile – TechCrunch

Ford president leaves the company over ‘inappropriate behavior’

Ford Motor Company President Raj Nair is leaving the company “effective immediately” after an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior. “Certain behavior by Nair was inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct,” the company writes in a statement. No further specifics were given about which parts of the company’s code of conduct were violated.

“We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. “Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values.”

Nair had been with the company for 31 years, and in 2017 was named to the position of president of North American…

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Ford president Raj Nair leaves over ‘inappropriate behavior’

Ford will have to adjust its technology strategy, and not for the right reasons. The automaker's North America President Raj Nair has left the company after an internal investigation determined that "inappropriate behavior" was out of line with the…
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Ford Patented a Self-Driving Police Car That Even Writes Tickets

The Ford Motor Company — one of America’s ‘Big Three’ auto-giants — has a [troubling] vision of changing the way police officers issue traffic and vehicle citations.

Strange as it may seem, The Washington Post reports that earlier this year, Ford filed a patent covering its vision of an autonomous police car — an actual, next-generation police cruiser, which would be functionally equipped with technologies allowing it to issue traffic tickets wirelessly.

“The autonomous police cars may have cameras and lasers to detect traffic violators,” MotorTrend explains, adding that “Once [the autonomous police car] identifies a vehicle that is violating traffic laws, it pulls the vehicle over.”

At that point, with minimal intervention on the officer’s part, the car captures an image of the license plate; it then receives an image of the driver’s license, and ultimately uses that information to scan police databases and determine whether a warning or citation should be issued.

If that’s not creepy enough these cars are capable of being trained via machine learning to help ‘map out’ the best hiding spots — so as to “nab speeders and other types of traffic violators” quicker and easier.

When Are They Coming?

While the sheer thought of an autonomous police car roaming the streets is bound to irk the hell out of most drivers, it’s worth pointing out the inherent patent is merely a concept at this point.

And while the literature goes on to suggest that these cars may allow officers to devote their time to “more difficult tasks that can’t be automated,” it stands to reason we may never even see these things. Ford admitted that it’s unsure of whether these cars will ever be produced, saying in a statement issued to The Washington Post that “We submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business. Patent applications are intended to protect new ideas but aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans.”

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