Monday, 29 June 2015 22:31

Ford Collaborates with Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem on Autonomous Vehicles, 3D Printing, Wearable Technology

Autonomous vehicle technology is another step closer to production at Ford, moving from a research effort to an advanced engineering program, the company announced on June 23. Ford has appointed a director of autonomous vehicle development – 29-year Ford veteran Randy Visintainer – and created a global team to work on the program.

Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is working on the global Ford team to deliver the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which aims to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.

“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup to help make our roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “At the same time, we are working to make sure those features and the whole way you shop for, buy and own a Ford vehicle provides an outstanding customer experience.”

With the transition to advanced engineering, autonomous driving technology enters the second of three phases in the process of bringing a feature to market. As an advanced engineering program, the team now is working to make the required sensing and computing technology feasible for production and continuing testing and refinement of algorithms.

Ford also announced that Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection technology, already available on Ford Mondeo in Europe, will be available in the United States next year on a Ford-brand vehicle. This continues Ford’s plan to roll out the feature on most Ford products globally by 2019.

Driver-assist features are part of the building blocks for increasingly capable semi-autonomous technology, as Ford enhances the sensors, algorithms and actuators in vehicles to create new fully automated driving technology.

Early access to Carbon3D CLIP technology helps accelerate innovation, product design

Ford is collaborating with start-ups and other key players in Silicon Valley to make mobility solutions accessible to millions of people worldwide.

Since December 2014, the company has been working with Redwood City-based Carbon3D – which developed Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) – a 3D printing technology that grows parts from UV curable resins at speeds as much as 25 to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. The resulting parts boast mechanical properties that are applicable for a range of needs for Ford vehicles including high-quality automotive-grade parts.

“Our ability to innovate depends on how quickly we can move from idea to production,” Nair said. “This technology enables us to quickly create automotive-grade parts for product design prototypes – and perhaps even production parts – faster than ever before, so we can deliver new vehicles to customers even sooner.”

Carbon3D technology uses engineering resins able to damp vibrations, support loads or withstand high temperatures.Using the technology, Ford produced elastomer grommets for the Ford Focus Electric and damping bumper parts for the Transit Connect.

Ford boosting connectivity

Ford also has been working to extend connectivity innovations to wearable technology.

The company developed a MyFord® Mobile app extension coming soon for smartwatches – including Android Wear.

The MyFord Mobile application, already available for smartphones, will provide customers the ability to check the driving range and battery charge for their plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle quickly from their wrists before they leave on a trip, and to even find the location where they last parked.

Ford also recently announced its all-new SYNC® 3 communications and entertainment system will debut in North America on the 2016 Ford Escape, Fiesta, F-150, Mustang and Transit. SYNC 3 features faster performance, conversational voice recognition, intuitive smartphone-like touch screen and easier-to-understand graphical interface.

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