Jessica Robinson, Director of City Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility, sat down TechRepublic's Teena Maddox at SXSW and explained how the innovation of a "transportation mobility cloud" could reshape and redirect traffic patterns, connecting cars, and other smart city IoT devices, including street or traffic lights.
"Just a year ago we announced the launch of Chariot here in Austin as way for people to commute to and from work," says Jessica Robinson, Director of City Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility. "Today, Chariot has 20 routes in the market with more than 100 vehicles. They work with prominent businesses. They're still with Whole Foods, and opened up a number of routes to the community. It's not just larger players using the service every day with their employees, it's the community too.
Working with Chariot and other services at Ford is fascinating. SXSW is known as a place where people discuss ideas in art and music or technology, and the auto is one of the ultimate topics of discussion. We're seeing representatives from cities around the world become part of the conversation. The mayor of London is here, the mayor of Austin, the mayor of New York and many others are, too. We see a real interest in understanding the potential arrival of new technologies, like self-driving vehicles and connected cars. The role of data and data platforms to power all of the systems that work together has proven a popular topic.
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We're on panels, doing a lot of listening and connecting with those folks to understand how they're thinking about these changes for their own cities.
Regarding the future of Ford mobility, there's work ahead. We are focused on building the transportation mobility cloud, so data comes off connected vehicles, to interact with city data, from a connected street light or a connected traffic light, to interacting together. Cities want to bring this data into one place, so it becomes useful information, rather than just data for data sake.
We're also at work on building out our connected vehicle platform to ensure all cars off the line are connected. Our team, City Solutions, focuses more on community involvement in conversations about mobility. We have a number of pending projects I can't talk about too much yet, but the community have a voice in this discussion."
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.