The Future Of Transportation

Ford’s vision for the city of tomorrow aims to combat gridlock, add green space and boost quality of life. starting now.

City living can be frustrating especially during rush hour, when you sit in traffic, fuming, for what seems like an eternity. “Over the next 15 to 20 years, the number of people living in urban areas is going to increase significantly,” says Jessica Robinson, director of Ford City Solutions. And with that will come even more congestion and air pollution. 

But if Ford has its way, the future will be brighter. Public transportation will be optimized for efficiency and ride-sharing, creating not only a more convenient commute but also more green spaces where parking structures and roads once existed. Instead of sitting in gridlock, street vehicles will communicate with one another for optimal speeds, routes and accident avoidance; by then there will be significant concentrations of autonomous vehicles, most of which will be electrified. If you suddenly get sick, high-speed drones—activated by wearables—could deliver emergency medicine directly to you, wherever you are. Moving toward this broad vision for the City of Tomorrow, the Ford City Solutions team is already working with urban centers around the globe to propose, pilot and develop mobility solutions. It builds upon many innovative technologies already in development at Ford—including autonomous and electric vehicles, ride-sharing, ride-hailing and connected vehicles.

“This is an issue that goes far beyond congestion,” says Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “It represents a massive challenge to mankind, one that affects our well-being and access to health care, clean drinking water, food, a safe place to live and even the ability to find work.”

Chariot—a Ford app-based, crowd-sourced ride-sharing service—currently operates in San Francisco and Austin with plans to expand to six other cities by year-end. Robinson describes Chariot as “a way to reduce congestion in cities through more efficient use of shared vehicles” by planning routes based on the movement patterns of a city’s residents-—it’s an adaptive service, tailored to its passengers’ pickup and dropoff needs. Within five years, Ford plans to unveil a fleet of autonomous vehicles to increase efficiency. “It’ll be part of a deeper rethinking that we all do, as consumers,” Robinson adds. “In some cases, we’ll leave our own cars parked and hop in an autonomous shared ride.”

This year, Ford GoBike, a bicycle-sharing collaboration with Motivate, is rolling out across San Francisco and the Bay Area, adding more transportation options for residents and visitors. The program plans to increase the number of bikes to 7,000 in the Bay Area by the end of 2018. When it launches, Ford GoBike can be accessed by users through the FordPassTM App.*

Ford plans to produce 20 million modem-equipped vehicles worldwide over the next five years; and car-to-car communications systems are expected to drastically reduce congestion and the number of traffic accidents.

Watch the video to learn more about Ford's vision.

Ford is also making a global push to increase the number of electric vehicles on roads. The company projects that within 15 years it will actually build more EVs than gasoline-powered vehicles (including a hybrid Mustang, F-150 and Transit by 2020; see the story on page 4). An increased demand for electric cars could further change roads in our cities and lead to “smart roadways,” which could integrate charging or change a parking lane to a ride-sharing pickup lane during rush hour.

Also possible in the future? Drone delivery. Robinson sets the scene: “You’ve ordered food ingredients for dinner. The delivery van arrives—it’s autonomous. A drone pops out of the roof and actually lands on your balcony and delivers your ingredients right there.” 

So the next time you’re stuck in gridlock, remember that change is in the air. “By solving the mobility challenge, we have the chance to create a better world for future generations,” Bill Ford says. “It’s both an exciting opportunity and  a big responsibility.”

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