By on July 31, 2019

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While mobility has placed the automotive industry in a state of minor limbo, manufacturers achieving a major breakthrough may yet ascend to heaven — financially speaking. Ford has promised to deliver robot-driven taxis within a couple of years and expended quite a bit of cash to get there since acquiring Argo AI in 2017. However its autonomous arm, Ford Smart Mobility, has only encountered mixed success. Progress in terms of self-driving has been incremental, with the company shuttering some of the side businesses that explored alternative revenue streams (e.g. Chariot) and losing millions though its software investments.

Disinterested with failure, Ford partnered with Volkswagen Group earlier this year. As part of the deal, VW agreed to dump another 2.6 billion into Argo in hopes that it would accelerate development. Ford said it would be taking things a step further on Tuesday and announced the acquisition of two more tech companies. 

Journey Holding Corp. is a firm that develops tracking software and other app-based technology for the transportation industry with a focus on mass transit. The other acquisition, Quantum Signal AI, is a robotics and simulation company aimed at giving Ford’s self-driving efforts a nudge in the right direction (with help from Argo and the Israel-based SAIPS).

Quantum Signal will be tapped for its algorithmic knowledge, with Ford hoping to put it into use inside of its autonomous vehicles. But it’s also going to help the automaker run digital simulations that teach machines how best to navigate a myriad of environments. That’s the hope, anyway.

Meanwhile, buying Journey Holding nets Ford access to subsidiaries Ride Systems and DoubleMap. The duo develop and run apps that track shuttle services for universities and private businesses. In the future, the acquisition is said to help ensure Ford has a system that allows it to effectively monitor its planned robo-taxi fleet while giving customers a way to access it via their phones (think Uber). It’s also supposed to help the automaker manage its existing mobility services in a similar manner.

“The combination of these transit technology companies will accelerate our efforts to help cities deliver more seamless, productive, and accessible transportation solutions to their citizens and visitors,” said Brett Wheatley, vice president Ford Mobility Marketing and Growth. “It also will be key to connecting customers with the other mobility solutions in our portfolio, such as Spin e-scooters and our GoRide Health service.”

 

[Image: Ford Moto Co.]

 

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22 Comments on “Ford Triples Down on Mobility, Acquires Two Tech Firms...”


  • avatar

    Question: What happens when a robot-driven vehicle slams into my Toyota? Will it pull over and exchange insurance cards with me? Hehehe….

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      A1: If you survive the crash, it will be your fault.

      A2: If the crash kills you, your family sues the AV mfr, eventually SAE Level 5 is banned as a concept, and AV mfrs drown in a sea of litigation. (Sidebar: Tesla – who has actually pre-sold this feature to paying customers without it being available – will be forced to refund whoever has paid for this, and its stock price will plunge.)

    • 0 avatar

      When I was involved in accident the first thing my car did – it deployed side airbags and then called 911 and sent out my coordinates. In few minutes all kind of emergency vans, fire trucks, police cars with sirens blasting arrived and lady somewhere in 911 land was talking with me via audio system of my car. All that happened without my participation. Even tow truck came by itself.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    But who’s going to acquire Johnnycab? That’s the real prize.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “Disinterested with failure”

    Thank you Mr. Posky for taking time to wordsmith compelling formulations. Such attention to quality writing makes this place special, and very much sets it apart from other autoblogs!

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “The combination of these transit technology companies will accelerate our efforts to help cities deliver more seamless, productive, and accessible transportation solutions to their citizens and visitors,” said Brett Wheatley, vice president Ford Mobility Marketing and Growth.

    Such corporate-speak gives me a severe migraine.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    I just checked and Ford’s stock is up 2 cents today. Great success!

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Silly me, I thought Ford was into Mobility all these years providing cars and SUVs and trucks to people.

    I know, I know. In the gig economy where no one owns nothing yet gets to use something that some rich investors in California or China own, we are to believe that a old style company, can bring forth new way thinking to masses. Hence Ford spending money in context of hipster lingo mobility transformation.

    I got news for Ford, even Lyft is struggling in that space, and Uber and Lyft may eventually merge. Spend your money on real cars as opposed to on vaporware (see Chevy Volt, see GM EDS, see Gm Hughes Helicopter, See GM EV1, See ….)

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    BREAKING: HACKETT IS KILLING FORD! BARRA IS KILLING GM!

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Mobility is the last of Ford’s problems – maybe it could invest the time and resources into perfecting the automatic transmission (coming from a former 35 plus year Ford owner).

  • avatar
    redapple

    MOBILITY IS A WASTE OF MONEY.
    STOP ALL EXPENDITURES.
    WAIT FOR THE GAME CHANGER /INNOVATION.
    THEN JUST BUY IT FROM THE INVENTOR OR PAY ROYALTY.

    sAME FOR BATTERY TECH.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    2029 headline in Minnesota: “Out of Work Cabbies Continue to Vandalize Autonomous Taxis.”

  • avatar
    mcs

    “Quantum Signal will be tapped for its algorithmic knowledge”

    I took a look at what they’re doing and the skillsets for the engineers they are looking for. Quantum will get Ford nowhere. In my opinion, technologically, Quantum is headed in the wrong direction.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Ford – We Can’t Run Our Business. Can We Run Yours?”

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Once again, Ford is off-loading their design to outsiders. They did the same thing years ago with Mazda and Volvo (Focus/500/Explorer). The shuttering of their two prior outside investments pretty much says that the senior leaders are clueless and are using a coin to make decisions. Long term, that doesn’t bode well for them.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Between mobility and the mad rush to sell bazillions of EVs nobody wants….

    The question becomes which company is going to file bankruptcy first when one or both bets go bad.


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