We may be in the height of the dry season in Cape Town but you probably wouldn’t have guessed by looking at the dam…
Bill Ford Jr., the executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company used his keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last night to lobby for a stronger cooperation between mobile tech companies and the auto industry to avoid “global gridlock.” Given numerous predictions that we will see global car ownership go from about one-billion to four-billion by 2050, Ford believes that unless these cars get smarter and become an integrated part of a larger and Internet-connected transportation system, we will soon face massive problems. “Cars,” Ford said,” are a great untapped opportunity for mobile.”
Cities, he said, will likely get to a point where emergency vehicles won’t be able to get to where they need to be and food deliveries may never make it to their destinations either. That does sound a bit dramatic — as does his argument that “global gridlock” could one day become human rights issue — but there can be little doubt that smarter and more integrated transportation solutions are needed.
Smarter cars to avoid gridlock
In Ford’s vision, we will likely get to a point in the next 10 to 20 years where our cars will automatically route us around traffic jams and then direct us to a parking spot we already reserved before we even left for the trip. The car will be able to park itself (a technology that is already widely in use today), so we will be able to conserve space by parking cars closer to each other.
Even today, cars are already outfitted with large numbers of sensors. This data, however, almost never leaves the car. In Ford’s vision, cars will soon become part of a mesh-like network of other vehicles, a city’s infrastructure (think traffic lights, for example) and other transportation options that will that will all be interconnected.
To get to this point, though, Ford acknowledged, automobile companies will have to work together with regulators, the mobile industry and other stakeholders. “Cooperation between the car and telecoms industries,” he noted, “is crucial.”