New "livable streets" filled with vehicles that are interconnected with their environment are key features of the so-called "smart city" concept being developed by the Ford Motor Co., whose CEO - Jim Hackett - gave the keynote address on the future of mobility at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Applying technology to the automotive sector is a central focus of this year's annual fair, the most important event of its kind, and where this year new sectors are surging to the fore, including the concept of smart cities and artificial intelligence.
Ford is one of the more than 3,900 companies from 150 countries that are presenting their latest innovations at the fair starting on Tuesday, and the firm revealed that it is working with Qualcomm to have its vehicles communicate directly with other vehicles, pedestrians and infrastructure.
Via Qualcomm's Vehicle-to-Everything (CV2X) technology, vehicles will create a "conversation" with data that the authorities or local officials can access in real time to "solve problems" in cities of the future, including "relieving congestion," the executive director of Connected Vehicles, Don Butler, said.
And Gary Shapiro, the head of fair organizer CTA, said that urbanization is increasing and by 2050 the United Nations estimates that 66 percent of the world's population will live in cities. Thus, companies are seeking ways to improve the quality of life under those circumstances.
Hackett confirmed that his firm is indeed working along those lines, proposing a "redesign" of cities' transportation systems that takes into account the collaborative economy and people's "anxiety" about the "impact of technology on their lives."
He said that firms need to align their goals with society and develop a new way of thinking about freedom of movement, considering not only vehicles on the street but also their destinations.
The firm also announced another initiative quite apart from manufacturing vehicles and smart cities: the Ford Transportation Mobility Cloud, an open platform where services can be based to optimize the transportation system and customers' experiences.
Among the benefits resulting from Ford's mobility innovations will be reducing the time people spend commuting to and from work, helping street level businesses, promoting interactions among people and achieving a new kind of civic freedom, Hackett said.
Ford wants to have ready for market in 2019 its vehicles linked with CV2X technology, which the firm are scheduled to test this year, and it is planning to launch a line of self-driving vehicles designed for businesses in 2021, which Hackett said means that the "conversation" about the future of the sector is beginning.