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Ford to Expand Autonomous Fleet, Add New Connectivity Features

No announcement on rumored Google partnership.

Despite the many rumors, Ford’s CES 2016 announcement did not entail a partnership with Google to create an autonomous car. Instead, Ford confirmed that the company will continue to forge its own autonomous path. A few other additions to the technological portfolio were also part of Ford’s news from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Ford Triples Autonomous Vehicle Fleet

To kick things off, Ford revealed it plans to triple its existing autonomous fleet with the addition of 20 Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicles. These hybrids will navigate roads in California, Arizona, and Michigan (including the MCity autonomous test track), where they will utilize an advanced LiDar system from Velodyne. These small, solid-state “pucks” are designed specifically with an automotive application in mind, and are the most powerful sensors available from Velodyne.

Sync Integration with Amazon Echo and Alexa

Upping the Sync connectivity ante, Ford has partnered with Amazon to create a link between your car and your home. Through a number of simple voice commands, the owner of the connected car can remotely start or turn-off and lock or unlock the vehicle. The vehicle can inform the user of the remaining fuel range, as well as the state of electric charge for hybrid and electric cars.
Along with tethered car functions, the Amazon technology also allows integration with a smart house, which allows the driver to open the garage, turn off or turn on lights, and prepare home climate control all through voice commands issued while behind the wheel.

Drone-to-Vehicle Communication

Ford announced a partnership with DJI, a leading name in the camera drone segment. Ford created an F-150 truck that serves as the “home base” for the large drone, and packs a host of features that allows emergency personnel to safely survey an area before risking injury. Using Sync 3, the user selects an area on the map in which the drone is to investigate. The data collected can be uploaded to the truck itself, or made immediately available to included parties through cloud sharing technology.

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