Posted By: Wings Journal September 30, 2019
After testing autonomous vehicles in cities including Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Miami, Ford and Argo AI have launched self-driving cars in Detroit. The fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrids, protected through the addition of a safety driver and monitored by a co-pilot, are built to withstand a variety of conditions, and the data collected near the center of Ford’s manufacturing will provide another layer of vital data as the company prepares to launch its first self-driving commercial vehicles, which it aspires to do by 2021.
To help the company meet this self-imposed deadline, Ford has also recently acquired Quantum Signal AI, a robotics firm that has worked with the U.S. military. The company requires military-grade robotics because driving conditions, much like the terrain navigated by military vehicles, are hugely unpredictable, and competitors like General Motors and Waymo continue to struggle to build software that can drive as well as a human when faced with potholes, whiteouts, closed roads, ice, and other issues that commuters have to deal with.
Along this journey, Ford also partnered with Volkswagen to share the costs of creating both self-driving and electric cars, with both companies investing in Argo AI and sharing its technology, not unlike partnerships between Fiat-Chrysler and Hyundai, Waymo and Renault-Nissan, Volvo and Uber, and Honda and General Motors – all of whom are actively looking to stake their claim in the race to fully autonomous and electric vehicles.
Elena Ford is first woman Ford family member to hold a significant position at the automaker. As Ford continues to develop technology for commercial vehicles, the company is also hard at work to innovate and improve upon the customer experience. No one knows this better than Elena Ford . As the company’s chief experience officer, Henry Ford’s great-great-granddaughter isn’t just pushing to innovate to help business owners and passengers of the future. Right now, she’s hard at work to make the experience of driving and maintaining Ford’s vehicles more comfortable – and easier – than ever before.
Though she has been with the company since 1995, in her current role, Elena Ford is laser-focused on finding ways to use technology to make Ford’s customers happy. One of her biggest wins on this journey was her deep involvement in the creation of FordPass and The Lincoln Way. These apps simplify the process of scheduling repairs with dealerships, help drivers discover and diagnose problems their vehicles may have before they end up in a potentially dangerous situation, and create a rewards system that incentivizes vehicle owners to continue doing business with the company for years to come.
Through this work, she aspires to help the company that bears her name create long-lasting, meaningful relationships. With Ford’s backing, as well as help from top tech talent, she aims to ensure that Ford’s customers receive a unified, world-class experience, no matter which vehicle they own, where they live, or what stage of life they’re in.
Before she became Ford’s chief experience officer, Elena Ford was instrumental in launching Smart Mobility LLC – the division of the company focused on the transportation services market. Originating as a company-wide initiative and now a full subsidiary, Smart Mobility LLC is working to bring self-driving vehicles into the world as both taxis and a mode of transportation for goods and package delivery, working like a startup and collaborating with partners as needed to achieve its goals.
Elena Ford believes that while people will continue to own and drive their regular cars, they will also make use of smart vehicles for other purposes. With a solid long-term vision and plans for the future, she is more than likely right.
In the years to come, expect to see Ford continue to grow, innovate, and develop new technology to positively impact individuals, businesses, and everyone else who uses the world’s roadways.