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Ford makes big investments in autonomous vehicles and mobility

Ford announced several investments this week in technology for self-driving cars. It also is going to provide shuttles and bikes for several major metropolitan areas. The shuttle service will start in San Francisco.

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Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said years ago that he believes his family’s corporation is a “mobility company” not just an automaker. This week, the auto giant is making several investments to further that goal. Ford started talking last year about the importance of providing a range of mobility, even introducing e-bikes and vans to transport them. That vision will become reality soon as Ford will provide a shuttle service and bikes for the San Francisco area.
Ford CEO Mark Fields made a joint announcement with the mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee. Ford bought the shuttle service called Chariot and will expand the city’s bike sharing options with the new Ford GoBike bike sharing service. In a statement Fields says, “We’re expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, and partnering with cities on current and future transportation needs is the next major step.”

The shuttles fill in the gap between bus service and taxis, traveling specific routes. Ford envisions expanding the service to at least five other metropolitan areas within the next 18 months. Eventually, Ford hopes to expand the program globally.

Ford also made major investments in autonomous car technology this week. Ford is partnering with three tech companies to improve its self-driving cars but also make all of its vehicles more connected.

HAAS Alert can warn drivers that emergency vehicles are approaching. Spatial can provide information to drivers on what businesses and restaurants are nearby. And another service called Cargo, helps ride-share drivers cater to passengers. Ford is not promising that all of this technology will be used in its self-driving cars but much of it will likely show up on future navigation and connectivity platforms for all Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

Bill Ford is also heading a mobility forum that will be held in the Detroit area September 28th and 29th. It is called the World Mobility Leadership Forum, and it will feature 250 automotive and transportation representatives. The forum is intended to help the auto companies and cities collaborate on solving transportation issues.

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