Category Archives: Ford

Ford invests $180m in Pivotal to bolster software capabilities

Ford carUS automotive giant Ford has invested $182.2m in cloud software company Pivotal, in a continued effort to diversify its business offerings.

The company has stated it is ‘aggressively’ pursuing emerging technologies as it aims to become a company known as much for mobility as it does for cars and SUV’s. Ford’s ambitions are targeted towards becoming a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

“Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences,” said Mark Fields, Ford CEO. “Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley, including continually expanding FordPass – our digital, physical and personal mobility experience platform.”

The relationship itself dates back to February of this year, as the team announced a new partnership to deliver FordPass, a platform which offers customers remote access to vehicles through a smartphone app, and mobility solutions, such as parking and car sharing. As part of the new relationship, Pivotal’s cloud and analytics capabilities will be incorporated into new projects such as its Dynamic Shuttle service, which offers employees on-demand ride sharing around its Dearborn campus in Michigan. The team have plans to expand the service to new locations and applications, including delivery services and emergency medical transportation, in coming months.

“Today we are at a major inflection point in global business, and Pivotal is at the fulcrum of that change,” said Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO. “We are collaborating with iconic companies like Ford to help transform their businesses with our unique software development methodology and modern cloud platform and analytics tools. We are thrilled to create a deeper partnership with Ford through this investment as we drive its evolution to becoming both an auto and mobility company – reinventing yet again how the world moves.”

Ford already uses Pivotal’s software in its EcoBoost engines, the SYNC 3 connectivity system and driver-assist parking technologies. The company also claims the F-150 model features more than 150 million lines of code, compared to a typical smartphone operating system has approximately 12 million lines, demonstrating the growing trend of software within the automotive industry.

With autonomous vehicles one of the industry’s growing trends, companies such as Google and Microsoft have made healthy investments in recent months, some corners of the industry will be less surprised with Ford’s moves. Customer experience has long played a role within the automotive industry, though the growth and normalization of cloud technologies, combined with increasingly demanding, digitally orientated customers, Ford’s financial moves could demonstrate the beginning of a new trend of investments for car manufacturers.

Verizon, Qualcomm among Mcity partners testing IoT, automated cars

Verizon is teaming up with the University of Michigan to test connected and automated cars

Verizon is teaming up with the University of Michigan to test connected and automated cars

Verizon and Qualcomm are among 15 partners launching Mcity at the University of Michigan this week, a controlled testing environment for connected and automated vehicles that the project participants claim could clear the path for mass-market adoption of driverless cars.

The facility will allow researchers to simulate environments where connected and automated vehicles will be most challenged – for instance where road signs may be defaced by graffiti, or when traffic lights become faulty or break.

“There are many challenges ahead as automated vehicles are increasingly deployed on real roadways,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center. “Mcity is a safe, controlled, and realistic environment where we are going to figure out how the incredible potential of connected and automated vehicles can be realized quickly, efficiently and safely.”

Michigan – particularly the City of Detroit – has a longstanding (and to some extent troubled) history in automotive, but the University said the facility will help the State regain its leadership in the sector. The project builds on a 3,000 vehicle connected car project launched three years ago and co-funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation

As part of its participation with the project Verizon will be contributing its telematics technology, In-Drive, and is offering its own research into vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies. It will also help explore various ways to combine mobility, telematics and IoT services.

Other project partners include Iteris, Navistar, Denso, Ford, General Motors, Qualcomm and Xerox; each partner is investing about $1m into the project over the next three years.

Amit Jain, director of corporate strategy, IoT verticals at Verizon said the project will help create new vendor-agnostic and OEM-agnostic services that could improve road and pedestrian safety.

“Placing the onus on OEMs only to deploy technologies such as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), for example, could take up to 37 years according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s why creating opportunities like Mcity to pool research and share best practices to expedite innovation is so important,” Jain said.

“Consider the fact that there are more than 30,000 fatalities in the US annually caused by vehicle accidents – of which 14 percent of those fatalities involve pedestrians. As part of our participation in Mcity, we will be involved in tailored research to explore how smart phones can be used to further enhance vehicle-to-pedestrian communications.”

Verizon has moved over the past few years to bolster its legacy M2M portfolio (industrial M2M, telematics) with the addition of new IoT services, which according to the telco now constitute a growing portion of its overall revenues – particularly connected cars. In a Q2 2015 earnings call with journalists and analysts this week Verizon’s chief financial officer Francis Shammo said that although IoT is still quite a nascent sector it raked in about $165m for the quarter and $320m year-to-date.

“As far as Internet of Things, we think that the transportation, healthcare, and energy industries in particular present great opportunities for us and we are very active fostering innovation in these areas,” Shammo said. “We are very well-positioned to capitalize on these new growth opportunities and we will continue to develop business models to monetize usage on our network and at the platform level.”