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Mobility services

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Ford to invest $1.8B in R&D in China

October 13, 2015

Ford Motor plans to invest RMB 11.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) in research and development in China in recognition that Chinese consumers are increasingly driving global innovation. The investment will allow Ford significantly to build up its research and development capabilities in the country—especially at its Nanjing Research and Engineering Center (REC)—and will help Ford create more world-class vehicles in China, for China.

First established in 2007 as part of Ford’s global product development network, Ford’s REC includes advanced product development laboratories which help the company develop new powertrains, test electronic systems, analyze the durability and safety of interior materials and improve vehicle manufacturing quality using the latest in 3-D scanning technologies.

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Ford launches Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan; Mobility Challenge Series 2.0

September 11, 2015

Building on the success of Ford’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series (IMCS) 1.0 in 2014 (earlier post), Ford has launched the Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan, which asks developers to submit traffic-busting solutions for the main highway artery between Taipei and popular tourist destination Yilan.

The Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge will task developers with optimizing traffic between the Taipei metropolitan area—home to seven million residents—and Yilan, a popular tourist destination for weekend and holiday getaways. The most common route for cars and buses is Freeway 5, which can get highly congested during peak times. This is particularly true on the stretch between Nangang and Toucheng, where traffic can become severely backed up at Hsuehshan Tunnel.

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Toyota to invest ~$50M to establish joint research centers at MIT and Stanford; intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies

September 04, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will be investing approximately $50 million over the next 5 years to establish joint research centers at Stanford and MIT, focused on the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies.

Additionally Dr. Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in parking services company ZIRX

September 02, 2015

BMW Group has made a strategic investment in on-demand parking and car services company ZIRX through BMW’s venture capital entity, BMW i Ventures. ZIRX intends to eliminate the frustration that drivers face in parking in major urban markets such as New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

This latest investment increases the number of mobility services start-ups in BMW i Ventures’ portfolio to 13. The current portfolio includes companies such as Chargepoint, Life360, Moovit, JustPark, Chargemaster and Zendrive.

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ARPA-E to award $14.5M to 5 projects to reduce energy use for transportation

July 31, 2015

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $14.5 million in funding for five projects in ARPA-E’s newest program, the Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET).

Many travelers’ and commuters’ transportation choices waste significant amounts of energy due to traffic complications, convenience and variability in transportation styles and preferences. Even when presented with travel options that consume less energy, travelers and commuters may be less likely to use these energy-efficient options if they affect the duration, cost or convenience of a trip. TRANSNET systems will identify less energy-intense travel options for users using software accessible on smartphones or other communications devices and provide the most efficient transportation choices for travelers and commuters.

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Intel and Micron begin production on new breakthrough class of non-volatile memory; 3D Xpoint memory speeds up to 1000 faster than NAND

July 29, 2015

Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc. unveiled 3D XPoint technology, a non-volatile memory that has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data. Now in production, 3D XPoint technology is a major breakthrough in memory process technology and the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash memory in 1989.

The explosion of connected devices and digital services is generating massive amounts of new data. To make this “big data” useful, it must be stored and analyzed quickly, creating challenges for service providers and system builders who must balance cost, power and performance trade-offs when they design memory and storage solutions. 3D XPoint technology combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all available memory technologies on the market today, the partners said. The technology is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory.

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ITF report finds self-driving shared vehicles could take up to 90% of cars off city streets; total kilometers travelled increases

April 30, 2015

A fleet of self-driving shared cars combined with high-capacity public transport could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous under certain circumstances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only about one-third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today.

However, while the number of cars is drastically lower, total vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) increase—more than doubling in one scenario at peak periods due to detours for pick-ups/drop-offs, repositioning and a shift from bus trips to shared cars. The additional travel could increase environmental impacts, if the fleets used conventional engines. If a fleet of electric vehicles were used instead, a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles would need only 2% more vehicles, however, to accommodate battery re-charging times and reduced travel range.

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Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London entering beta phase

March 19, 2015

Ford’s Go!Drive on-demand car sharing experiment apps allows users to register, select a vehicle and pay through a mobile app. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London is entering its beta phase, which will entail ramping up the fleet from 20 to 50 units and beginning to look at different elements of customer access around car sharing, including pricing and incentives in terms of how the car sharing model and operate smoothly and efficiently, according to Alicia Agius, product innovation manager of Ford Europe.

Go!Drive was originally announced as “City Driving On-Demand” and is one of the original set of 25 Smart Mobility experiments announced by Ford CEO Mark Fields at CES in January. (Earlier post.) While there are many car-sharing services based on the reservation model, the focus of this experiment is on-demand use, as well as gaining understanding about EV preference—half of the Go!Drive fleet is Focus Electrics, the other half Ford Fiestas with EcoBoost engines. Go!Drive provides guaranteed parking and one-way rentals; there is no membership fee and the cost is 17p/min ($.26/min). The target is to have more than 2,000 Londoners in the program.

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German project exploring integration of electromobility with transport services

March 09, 2015

A project funded by the German government—“BiE – Bewertung integrierter Elektromobilität” (evaluation of integrated electromobility)—is exploring how mobility services (such as public transport services and car sharing) can be integrated better with electric vehicles and into the everyday life of users. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding BiE with €2 million (US$2.2 million) under the federal program “Electric Mobility”. BiE is part of the “Cluster Electric Mobility South-West”. The joint project is coordinated by cantamen GmbH, a provider of IT solutions for fleets and carsharing.

The BiE project focuses on concepts for the seamless cooperation of various mobility service providers as well as on the optimized planning of larger, electrically driven car sharing fleets. The paramount project goal is to design an evaluation system for the integration of electric mobility into everyday life. Based on characteristics, the project tools will make specific calculations regarding the use of electric mobility in various areas.

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Ford targeting smart parking as element of Smart Mobility; vehicle sensors, connectivity and big data

February 18, 2015

At CES 2015 in January, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. (Earlier post.) Three of the initial projects announced as part of the plan address the ongoing problem of urban parking.

Although there are “dozens” of apps available that can help a driver find a parking space, said Dave McCreadie, Ford’s manager of electric vehicle infrastructure and smart grid technology and part of the cross-functional group working on the mobility projects, “the data behind the apps seems a bit thin.” Ford’s idea is to leverage the cloud, in-vehicle sensors, connectivity and advanced data analysis including probability algorithms to provide a much more comprehensive picture of available parking without incurring a cost in infrastructure build-out.

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Ford supports launch of mobility-focused startup business accelerator program in Detroit: Techstars Mobility

December 11, 2014

Ford, Magna International Inc. and Verizon Telematics, are supporting the launch of “Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit”—a startup business accelerator program sited in downtown Detroit. Together, the companies are committing $2 million in funding plus mentors and other resources to support participating startups. Several Michigan-based venture capital firms will provide guidance to participants.

The tech incubator is aiming to deliver innovative mobility and transportation solutions that help alleviate growing global challenges such as traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution. The mobility scope is “broader than automotive,” noted Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “The space really can comprise a lot of different [types] of companies.

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