Bikes help big car company improve
Ford implements plan for a rewarding experience for drivers
SAN FRANCISCO — Ford Motor Company last month announced the next phase of its Ford Smart Mobility plan — moving from research to the start of implementation, including new strategic areas of focus, new pilot programs and new mobility product experiments.
Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data.
Ford introduced the plan in January, along with 25 experiments aimed at better understanding consumers’ mobility needs around the globe.
“My great-grandfather helped put the world on wheels so everyone could enjoy the benefits of mobility,” said Ford executive chairperson Bill Ford. “Our vision today is to expand that same thinking using advanced technology and new business models, and addressing the mobility challenges people face around the world.”
Two key areas
Following six months of gathering data and consumer insights, Ford is honing in on two strategic areas — flexible use and ownership of vehicles, and multimodal urban travel solutions.
“We now are moving from experimentation to implementation,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, speaking at the annual Further with Ford trends conference in Palo Alto.
“We have learnt a lot in the past six months, and now are ready to put insights into action.
“Our goal is to make people’s lives better by helping them more easily navigate through their day, address societal issues and, over time, change the way the world moves — just as Henry Ford did more than 100 years ago.”
The research included how to use bicycles best in urban environments and in the process, Ford found cyclists can help drivers.
Learnings include that both consumers and cities can use data from bike sensors, and bike sensor data can provide information about traffic patterns, pedestrians and road conditions that is difficult to obtain from vehicle sensors.
In the future, this data may be combined with vehicle data to analyse road quality, characterise micro-climates, or identify traffic patterns throughout the day. For example, city planners could use this information to create bike lanes. Bike riders could get insights on best routes or real-time
information on areas to avoid.
The big data garnered among others from cyclists can create driver profiles based on real behaviour behind the wheel, which can be shared with insurance providers and rental car companies for more personalised, potentially discounted rates.
Ford’s research delivered several tactics for driver assist systems that aim to help drivers help themselves become better road users.
The insights include:
• People like receiving a score, as it allows them to track their progress and improve.
• People don’t want to be told how to drive.
• System works better if drivers see benefits of improving driving habits and are rewarded for changing behaviour.
As Ford’s Smart Mobility shifts from research to implementation; more Ford bicycles may appear in city centres.