Ford partners with Amazon as it makes major push into driverless cars
Carmaker to triple driverless car fleet as it aims for slice of 'transportation services' market
Ford has announced a partnership with tech giant Amazon and an aggressive push into driverless cars as the company attempts to become a major player in “smart transport”
The company said it would triple its roster of self-driving cars to 30 vehicles, making it the largest ever industrial fleet of its kind, and make moves into other “transportation services” such as growing car-sharing and subscription services.
“Beginning this year, you will see us change dramatically, with a focus on the transportation services sector,” Ford chief executive Mark Fields said at the company’s press conference at CES 2016, the Las Vegas technology expo. “Revenue from transportation services equal $5.4 trillion (£3.7 trillion) and yet, today we receive none of our revenue from transportation services. That’s about to change.”
Ford’s partnership with Amazon will link cars with with Alexa, Amazon’s smart voice assistant technology, allowing drivers to voice-control your home from your car, and vice versa. For example, drivers can ask Alexa to start your Ford from inside the home.
The company will also work with Chinese drone giant DJI, which has released two new drones at CES 2016, and the United Nations to develop ways for drones to connect to Ford trucks in natural disaster zones, and direct them to badly-hit areas.
Ford’s biggest push, however, is in self-driving vehicles, as traditional carmakers face growing threats from tech companies like Google and Apple. Ford said its vehicles have achieved a “Level 4” autonomy, the most advanced level of autonomous driving currently possible, similar to Google’s driverless cars.
Fields said the role of the carmaker in the next decade would change as congestion explodes in urban areas, and people increasingly share or rent transport, meaning fewer cars being sold. New revenue streams for Ford include peer-to-peer car-sharing and 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020 to combat pollution.
“I predict 2016 is going to be a revolutionary year for the auto industry. The year we are going to see major breakthroughs that change the way the world moves,” said Fields.