Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ford's plan to make commutes more efficient, optimize EVs

by Damon Lavrinc

Android developers across the world have descended on San Francisco for this week's Google I/O conference, and Ford is getting in on the action with its announcement to utilize Google's new Prediction API to increase efficiency and decrease commute times.

The Prediction API has a range of location-based uses, but Ford's plan involves tapping into your driving habits, gathering historical commute and errand data, and then optimize your route depending on traffic, weather and a host of other information.

Cutting down commute times and increasing fuel efficiency are at the top of the list, but it's obvious Ford is primarily planning to use the tech for its future all-electric and plug-in hybrid-driving vehicles. By determining drive routes ahead of time, storing that information in the cloud and directing drivers to the most efficient roads, Ford can eliminate some of the range anxiety EV drivers have to contend with.

Tomorrow, a group of Ford researchers will be showing off concept version of the system at Google I/O, complete with a prototype use case that involves the driver opting in for the service (Ford is adamant that personal information security is of the utmost importance) and then utilizing the Google Prediction service to determine the most efficient route. The vehicle would ask the driver, "Good morning. Are you going to work?" and if the driver responds, "Yes," the system will choose a route that's optimized for the powertrain. This could also include EV-only zones, something that's being experimented with throughout Europe.

We'll have more on Ford's implementation of the Predictive API tomorrow...