Bill Ford's "Blueprint For Mobility" Calls For Cars, Bicycles, Pedestrians In Integrated Network

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
bill fords blueprint for mobility calls for cars bicycles pedestrians in integrated

We didn’t get to go to the World Mobile Congress in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, but it may have been nice to catch both the unveiling of the Ford B-Max and a keynote speech given by Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. Ford (the man, not the company) outlined an overarching vision for helping manage the estimated 2 billion cars that will be on the road by 2050.

Dubbed the “Blueprint for Mobility”, Ford’s idea takes the notion of in-car connectivity beyond using it just for playing music or getting directions. Ford’s plan seeks an integrated plan to manage traffic using “connected cars”

The telecommunications industry is critical in the creation of an inter-connected transportation system where cars are intelligent and can talk to one another as well as the infrastructure around them. Now is the time for us all to be looking at vehicles on the road the same way we look at smartphones, laptops and tablets; as pieces of a much bigger, richer network.

In the short term, Ford is hoping to take a leading role in both car sharing services like ZipCar, as well as mobile phone integration, with a new program called AppLink being integrated into the company’s SYNC system. The end goal will include vehicle-to-vehicle integration over WiFi spectrum, single seat or two seat commuter vehicles and eventually, autonomous vehicles. Long term, Ford is looking at how to manage traffic in terms of motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Gridlock is already a major problem in many countries, and with 60 percent of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas in the future, congestion will not only be a major annoyance, but it will have an undoubted impact on car sales as public transportation, cycling or walking becomes a more desirable method of transportation.

Check out Ford’s official press release below;

  • Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford outlines vision for smart transportation and need for development of intelligent vehicles and transport systems at Mobile World Congress
  • Ford Motor Company’s “Blueprint for Mobility” calls for partnership with telecommunications industry to create an inter-connected transportation network as part of the solution for alleviating “global gridlock”
  • Ford envisions a radically different transportation landscape where pedestrian, bicycle, private car, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety
  • Ford is already developing new business models and partnerships in anticipation of personal vehicle ownership in cities becoming increasingly impractical
  • Ford announces AppLink smart phone app voice-control system to go global

During his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ford told delegates that the number of cars on the world’s roads is forecast to grow from 1 billion now to up to 4 billion by mid-century.

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 27, 2012 – Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford has outlined a plan for connected cars to help avoid a potential future of crippling congestion.

And he proposed that one way of avoiding the potentially global problem of an overcrowded road network is to create a global transportation network that utilizes communication between vehicles, transport infrastructure and individual mobile devices.

“If we do nothing, we face the prospect of ‘global gridlock’, a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources and even compromises the flow of commerce and healthcare,” said Ford in a preview of Ford Motor Company’s “Blueprint for Mobility”. “The cooperation needed between the automotive and telecommunications industries will be greater than ever as we prepare for and manage the future. We will need to develop new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world,” he added.

“No one company or industry will be able to solve the mobility issue alone and the speed at which solutions take hold will be determined largely by customer acceptance of new technologies. The telecommunications industry is critical in the creation of an inter-connected transportation system where cars are intelligent and can talk to one another as well as the infrastructure around them. Now is the time for us all to be looking at vehicles on the road the same way we look at smartphones, laptops and tablets; as pieces of a much bigger, richer network.”

Addressing Mobile World Congress delegates earlier in the day Ford Motor Company also took the opportunity to announce that AppLink, a feature which delivers voice control of smart phone apps from the driver’s seat, is being introduced globally as part of the SYNC voice-control and in-car connectivity system.

In the spirit of cooperation outlined in the keynote address, Ford plans to work closely with app developers around the world to provide the best services for Ford customers through AppLink.

“Blueprint for Mobility” adapts to a changing transport landscape

The company’s “Blueprint for Mobility” will seek solutions for a problem that is already becoming a reality in expanding vehicle markets around the world. In Sao Paulo, traffic jams regularly exceed 100 miles and the average commute lasts between 2 and 3 hours a day. Despite this, car buying is growing at a rate of 7.5 percent annually. In China, the world’s longest period of gridlock was registered at 11 days during 2010.

The problem is not restricted to emerging markets, either. For example, it is estimated that the cost of congestion to the economy in England through lost time will rise to around $35 billion (€26 billion) annually by 2025. In Germany, sustaining a town of 300,000 people is estimated to require 1,000 truck deliveries daily.

Solving the issue of urban mobility is a huge challenge that will only be successful if government collaboration, infrastructure development and industry come together globally.

During his keynote address, Ford focused on the opportunities and challenges presented by expanding communication networks and increasing global demand for personal mobility and commercial transportation as he outlined his vision for a future transport network integrated with mobile communications.

And as with the company’s “Blueprint for Sustainability,” which set near, mid- and long-term goals for significant reductions in the company’s global environmental footprint, the “Blueprint for Mobility” defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there, including;

Near-Term (5-7 years)

  • Ford Motor Company to be at the forefront of developing increasingly intuitive in-car mobile communications options and driver interfaces that proactively alert drivers to traffic jams and accidents
  • Developmental projects such as the vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems currently being explored at Ford’s European Research and Advanced Engineering Centre, in Aachen, Germany, and intelligent speed control features to grow in capability
  • The delivery of a better-connected, safer and more efficient driving experience with limited autonomous functions for parking and driving in slow-moving traffic – building on existing Ford features including Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active City Stop
  • Further development and defining of new vehicle ownership models, as already demonstrated through the Ford collaboration with Zipcar, the world’s largest car sharing and car club service

Mid-Term (2017 – 2025)

  • The introduction of semi-autonomous driving technology including driver-initiated “auto pilot” capabilities and vehicle platooning in limited situations – technologies that will provide improved safety and driver assistance features, but allow the driver to take control, if needed
  • Significantly more interaction between individual cars on the road through utilization of ever-increasing computing power and numbers of sensors in vehicles, helping reduce the number of accidents at intersections and enabling limited semi-autonomous and autonomous highway lane changing and exiting
  • The arrival of vehicle-to-cloud and vehicle-to infrastructure communication that contribute to greater time and energy efficiency by enabling vehicles to recommend alternative transport options when congestion is unavoidable and to pre-reserve parking at destinations
  • The emergence of an integrated transport network, featuring cars plugged into public databases
  • New city vehicle options as more and more 1, 2 and 3-passenger vehicles are introduced to help manoeuver city streets

“Cars are becoming mobile communications platforms and as such, they are a great untapped opportunity for the telecommunications industry. Right now, there are a billion computing devices in the form of individual vehicles out on our roads. They’re largely unconnected from one another and the network,” Ford said.

“We’ll increasingly take advantage of the car as a rolling collection of sensors to reduce congestion and help prevent accidents. I’m confident that we will see many of these advances on the road in this mid-term period because the early versions are already being designed, and in most cases, tested.”

Long-Term (2025+)

  • A radically different transportation landscape where pedestrian, bicycle, private car, commercial and public transportation traffic will be woven into a single connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety
  • Arrival of smart vehicles capable of fully autonomous navigation, with increased “auto pilot” operating duration, plus the arrival of autonomous valet functions, delivering effortless vehicle parking and storage
  • Development of a true network of mobility solutions, with personal vehicle ownership complimented by greater use of connected and efficient shared services, and completely new business models contributing to improved personal mobility

Bill Ford’s keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress was the first ever to be delivered at the leading annual communications industry event by an automotive industry executive, and followed his address at the TED 2011 conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Ford at 2012 Mobile World Congress

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About Ford Motor Company


Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

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  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Feb 28, 2012

    Dear Mr. Ford, You have always been a leader within the company with your family name on it since birth. It is a big operation. Growing up in it has given you an unusual perspective on how to make big organizations function. Your perspective is honest, interesting and appreciated. So, naturally, you see me getting into my car and driving to work in a similarly big fashion. You see me entering the expressway, driving through the grids of my downtown, and going to the same destination every day of the week for the past 15 years. So, to you, you see predictability, connectivity and repetition within a tranportation network needing some kind of managerial skill if our goal is to get everyone to whereever they need to go without waste. Now, reality. We are not things. Within every single motion device is a human being with a mind. We are not machines. We cannot be manipulated like loose marbles just needing a ramp to guide us. Sometimes thinking big is as fantastical as a Greek myth. While your blueprint makes sense on a blueprint, people aren't blueprintable in the big picture. Worse, to attempt your blueprint strips us of what we are. In order to fit your plan, I must lose myself. I must be willing to be seen as a digital bit. I won't do that. That is more inhuman, insensitive and as harmful as the problems you see your plan resolving. Imagine how horrible this world will become if your plan is successful. Sure - we may get to where you think we should be everyday, and do so without damaging the Earth, but at what human cost? I am not how I am propelled. Chaos is good. Embrace it. And you are a Ford. Please remember that.

  • Speed Spaniel Speed Spaniel on Feb 28, 2012

    That B Max thing is pretty homely. Please say it's for the Chinese market. How can Bill Ford stand next to that thing and think "this is my company's best styling effort?" Yo Bill - it's really really really really bad.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.
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