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Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford said Wednesday in Dubai that the future of mobility is threatened by a rising population and growing numbers of cars and trucks on the road.

Automakers, he said, cannot continue to do business as usual, and must find a way to connect cars and roads through smart technology.

“The freedom of mobility that my great-grandfather brought to people throughout the world is now threatened,” he said. “To keep traffic moving, we need an integrated transportation network that uses real-time data to optimize personal mobility on a massive scale.”

Ford said the advantages of smart vehicles are numerous: vehicles in traffic jams ahead of you could alert your car and have it re-route you to avoid the delay; smart parking lots could tell your car where free spots are available; and smart roads could alert you to potholes so you could avoid them.

“The potential benefits from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity are tremendous as the automobile becomes better integrated into the broader transportation system,” Ford said.

Beyond mobility, Ford said automakers have a duty to use smart cars to improve people’s lives.

He cited an example of a program in India where medical data of expectant mothers is loaded into cars and transmitted to doctors in nearby cities, allowing them to monitor the women’s conditions remotely.

To date, Ford has helped provide health care to more than 1,600 women and children, Ford said.

He said the navigation systems on smart cars can also help map roads of rural villages — something never done before. And there’s potential for autonomous vehicles to extend the driving life of elderly car-owners, giving them more freedom as they age.

“As technology quickly evolves, we must push ourselves to look for new opportunities to solve bigger issues,” Ford said. “This is the next challenge before us. We must find ways that mobility can improve the human condition.”

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2401

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN

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