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Ford plans to use cloud computing to boost mobility

Nora Naughton, and Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Las Vegas — Mobility that lives in the cloud.

That’s what Ford Motor Co. wants to offer its customers and plans to do with a Transportation Mobility Cloud. That and other plans for 2018 for Ford’s mobility team were outlined by Ford’s president of mobility Marcy Klevorn in a blog post published Monday night.

The Dearborn-based automaker, which will take center stage at CES here Tuesday when CEO Jim Hackett delivers a keynote address, is working with Autonomic to develop a platform that would harmonize the many modes of transportation offered in a city, Klevorn wrote.

Cellular vehicle-to-everything technology, which is the short way to say the vehicle can “communicate” with other vehicles or infrastructure, acts as the backbone for this platform, which would allow vehicles to communicate and share information with city infrastructure as well as with pedestrians and cyclists.

Ford also is working with telecommunications company Qualcomm to develop the complex data-sharing system. The Blue Oval partnered with Autonomic and Qualcomm last year.

Klevorn, in the blog post published Monday night from Las Vegas, illustrates a more tangible version of the transportation “system” that Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and former CEO Mark Fields hinted at for years with their “City of Tomorrow.”

Ford had become known for delivering lofty ideas and pointing to problems in the future of transportation without giving concrete examples of how those problems could be avoided. The company would outline a future of autonomous vehicles, smart stoplights, and intersections and electric vehicles without explaining how Ford planned to get there.

Klevorn and Ford on Monday provided somewhat of a bridge, showing how these new modes of transportation might look next month rather than in 20 years.

It’s a step for Ford and the overall automotive industry, which can favor vague plans and lofty promises when dealing with autonomous vehicle programs.

And, as Klevorn writes, the future of mobility relies on an interlocking, communicating network of infrastructure, vehicles, mass transit and software.

Hackett takes the podium at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Tuesday and is expected to expand on Ford’s future as a mobility provider.