REIN­VENT­ING THE WHEEL

How will driv­ing work when we might not be do­ing much of it at all?

ELLE Man (Canada) - - TREND - By Jeremy Freed

I’m stand­ing in the park­ing lot of Ford’s sparkling new glass and con­crete R&D cen­tre in Sil­i­con Val­ley, ready to wit­ness the fu­ture of au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy here in the global epi­cen­tre of “tech­no­va­tion.” The en­gi­neers, how­ever, are re­ally ex­cited about bikes. Un­der the bright Cal­i­for­nia sun, a group of Ford’s top high-tech de­vel­op­ers are rat­tling off the fea­tures of three new fold­ing-bi­cy­cle mod­els. Not-so-catchily dubbed “mul­ti­modal ur­ban mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions,” th­ese bikes are de­signed to link seam­lessly with a smart­phone or smart­watch. The bikes fea­ture han­dle­bars that vi­brate when your de­vice’s GPS an­tic­i­pates a turn, lights that flash when a ve­hi­cle ap­proaches from be­hind and the abil­ity to an­tic­i­pate when you’re work­ing up a sweat: The bat­tery power kicks in to whisk you to the of­fice dry and fresh.

As an ur­ban cy­clist as well as a driver, I im­me­di­ately want one. Un­for­tu­nately, I won’t get to ex­pe­ri­ence the bikes first-hand any­time soon—they’re just con­cepts with no sched­uled re­lease date. They are, how­ever, only one ex­am­ple of Ford’s prodi­gious ef­forts to ad­dress the needs of a driver of the fu­ture. The com­pany is also hard at work on tech­nolo­gies like app-based peer-to-peer car shar­ing, a cloud-based park­ing spot­ter—which al­lows cars to share data on avail­able park­ing spots—and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Stan­ford Univer­sity and the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy on a self-driv­ing Fu­sion model, cur­rently in the de­vel­op­ment stage, that’s equipped with 3-D map­ping.

Self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy, the au­to­mo­tive rev­o­lu­tion on ev­ery­one’s mind, has al­ready ar­rived in var­i­ous stages of readi­ness. Last spring, Mercedes-benz un­veiled the gleam­ing new au­ton­o­mous F 015 con­cept, out­fit­ted in soft white leather and 4K touch­screens, which could be whizzing silently down our streets in as lit­tle as 15 years. Tesla plans to launch its first

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