Ford exec: Hybrids are better suited for self-driving cars than EVs

Automakers like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Lyft, have been bundling their autonomous car experiments into electric vehicles. But Ford will keep one foot in fossil fuels, at least for now. An executive from the company told Automotive News t…
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Alibaba and Ford team up on connected car experiences

Alibaba and Ford team up on connected car experiences

Alibaba and Ford have teamed up to explore ways that connected tech can be used to transform customer experiences in the automotive industry.

With the aim of catapulting its automotive sales in the Chinese market, automotive giant Ford will work with four of ecommerce giant Alibaba’s business units. 

These include the divisions that run its operating system AliOS, its cloud-computing platform Alibaba Cloud, its digital marketing arm Alimama and B2C shopping site Tmall.

Read more: Ecommerce giant Alibaba opens ‘China’s smartest warehouse’

New opportunities

Ford and Alibaba want to identify and develop opportunities in a range of areas, including artificial intelligence, infotainment and the IoT

Although this partnership is only in the initial stages, both firms are already looking to conduct a pilot study that will help them develop retail opportunities in the automotive industry.

It’ll cover various stages of the automotive ownership cycle, including pre-sales, test drives and financial leasing options, according to Alibaba.

Read more: Alibaba showcases vision of ‘retail store of the future’

Leading the sector

The Chinese firm has already made an attempt to lead the industry in China, where more than 400,000 connected cars are already using AliOS. It also launched an internet car with China-based automaker SAIC Motor in 2016. 

Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba, explained that the firm is investing significant resources into the automotive sector and said it was “excited to redefine the consumer journey and user experience for automobiles” in its partnership with Ford. 

“Our data-driven technology and platform will expand the definition of car ownership beyond just having a mode of transportation and into a new medium for a smart lifestyle,” he added. 

Read more: Ford Robutt ensures car seats are built to last

Looking to the future

Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford, said that China is “one of the world’s largest and most dynamic digital markets, thriving on innovation, with customers’ online and offline experiences converging rapidly.”

In a statement, he said the companies share a vision “for smart vehicles in a smart world to reimagine and revolutionize consumers’ mobility experiences.”

China is not only the largest car market in the world, executive chairman Bill Ford pointed out, but is also “at the heart of electric-vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement.” The company now hopes to expand its presence in the world’s most populace country. 

Read more: Ford, Domino’s Pizza to trial self-driving delivery service in US


The post Alibaba and Ford team up on connected car experiences appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Ford Pilots a New Exoskeleton to Lessen Worker Fatigue

Simple Support

Working in a car factory in this current era isn’t too physically demanding, with robots doing pretty much all of the heavy-lifting. Yet, despite not having to carry so much weight, factory workers in Ford’s car manufacturing plants still do tedious and difficult work, considering how they have to perform overhead tasks repeatedly, up to 4,600 times a day or one million times a year.

To ease this burden and lessen the chances of injury, Ford has partnered with California-based exoskeleton maker Ekso Bionics to trial a non-powered upper body exoskeletal tool called EksoVest in two of the carmaker’s U.S. plants.

Designed to fit workers from five feet to six feet four inches tall, the EksoVest adds some 3 to 6 kilograms (5 to 15 pounds) of adjustable lift assistance to each arm. This exoskeleton is also comfortable enough to wear while providing free arm movement thanks to its lightweight construction.

Image credit: Ford
This exoskeleton is both easy and comfortable to use. Image Credit: Ford 

“Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers,” Ekso Bionics co-founder and CTO Russ Angold said in a Ford press release. “The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker’s body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale.”

Assistive Enhancements

While this isn’t the first exoskeleton designed to assist the human worker, the EksoVest demonstrates how such tools can prevent injury due to fatigue and provide physically disabled individuals the opportunity to regain lost abilities. Already, exoskeletons are being used to help paraplegics walk, and applications for these technologies are even being expanded to provide support and enhancement for soldiers.

The U.S. trial, made possible with support from the United Automobile Workers, has already shown demonstrated the wonders that the exoskeleton can offer in reducing fatigue from high-frequency tasks. As such, Ford plans to expand their EksoVest pilot program to other regions, which include Europe and South America.

“The health and safety of our membership has always been our highest priority,” said UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles. “With the proven success at the piloted locations, we look forward to expanding this technology to our other UAW-Ford manufacturing facilities.”

The post Ford Pilots a New Exoskeleton to Lessen Worker Fatigue appeared first on Futurism.


Ford tests exoskeleton to ease strain on factory workers

Companies are starting to propose functioning exoskeletons for real applications, from soldier support to helping paraplegic patients walk. But they could also be customized to help everyday workers with their harder tasks, as Lowe's lift-easing prot…
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Ford Launches New Electric Vehicles in China

In recent months, China has stepped up its game in replacing fossil fuels with renewable resources. From electric public transportation to a new, reusable rocket and a bold stand against dangerous pollution, the country is taking a firm stand against climate change and pollutants. This national movement is now bolstered by a new partnership between Ford and Chinese automaker Zotye. Together, they will create a brand new line of electric vehicles (EV) specifically for Chinese citizens.

Operating under a conjoined name — Zotye Ford Automobile Company — the collaboration will offer “a range of stylish and affordable electric vehicles for consumers in China.” The pair are working as equal partners, investing a combined $ 756 million (RMB 5 billion) in the budding business.

Many American automakers see untapped potential in the Chinese auto market, and since Chinese EV sales accounted for 40% of global EV sales in 2016, there is clearly a growing demand for EVs over traditional cars. Since the vehicles are manufactured locally in China and exist under a Chinese brand, this partnership eliminates the large import duty that would exist if they were manufactured overseas or by Western companies locally.

Some have criticized the initial design models for being too similar to existing vehicle models, but the growing demand and creation of affordable EVs will support the major global shift away from fossil fuels.

The post Ford Launches New Electric Vehicles in China appeared first on Futurism.