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Ford Predicts Key Areas in Automotive Electronics Innovation

December 21, 2012

DEARBORN, MI – Ford’s Paul Mascarenas, vice president and chief technical officer of Ford, offered his predictions of how automotive electronics technology can improve the driving experience in the coming years.

He said new types of sensor technologies integrated with advanced computers will lead to a number of changes in automotive technology and its capabilities. His predictions are as follows:

“Big data” analysis and intelligent decision making: Mascarenas said Ford is research the use of real-time sensor data, from sources such as radar and on-board cameras, in order to help reduce driver distraction by evaluating external factors that affect a driver’s ability to focus on driving.

Upgradeable, customizable hardware: Ford said its OpenXC research platform is an example of how open-source, community-driven development of “plug-and-play” hardware can allow for rapid vehicle customization.

Seamless cloud ecosystem integration: Ford said its SYNC system represents an open, agnostic platform that has allowed for greater compatibility with mobile technologies in vehicles. Going forward, Ford said the next step is to allow for greater access to, and seamless integration with, a wider range of cloud-based services in the vehicle.

Advanced machine learning: Ford cited its C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids as examples of vehicles using this technology. Their systems can learn information such as charging station locations, or a driver’s home and office location, which allows the vehicles’ computers to maximize electric-only driving near those places.

Biometrics: Ford is researching sensor systems that can monitor the driver's physical condition, for example using sensors in a car’s seat to measure driver stress levels. The automaker said one example use for this technology would be to help a vehicle’s driver assistance systems more effectively respond to a driver’s needs and skill level.

Prediction: Another area Ford is focusing on is how to predict driver behavior based on information such as prior destination history. The automaker said this technology could help optimize vehicle controls for improved performance, for example better energy management.

Rapid data authentication: This technology could allow for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and Ford said it’s actively researching this technology globally. Some technology examples include advanced Wi-Fi that allows a vehicle to exchange information with another in order to avoid an accident.

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