As Ford continues to tout all it will do to revolutionize mobility over the coming years, it’s taken a shine to the phrase “the City of Tomorrow” as a way of describing a hypothetical city of the future with streamlined transportation infrastructure, in which people move hither and tither in efficient, autonomous vehicles and electric bicycles.
Today, at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford took the liberty of coloring in some of the details of this “City of Tomorrow,” which it will work to make a reality with the new Ford City Solutions team – a team created to work with cities around the globe to generate case-specific solutions to existing mobility challenges.
The Near-Term Vision
In the near-term future, Ford will focus the bulk of its efforts on launching its first fully-autonomous passenger vehicle in 2021 and growing its shared-transit operations – like the “Chariot” shuttle service that the automaker acquired last year. In fact, Ford says that the service will be expanding into six new US cities in 2017; it currently operates only in San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX.
In addition, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications are expected to take off in the coming years, with cars communicating with each other and the road to boost safety and efficiency. Ford will aid that advent by equipping 20 million vehicles with embedded modems worldwide in the next five years.
The Long-Term Vision
In the long term, Ford foresees (mostly electrified) autonomous vehicles commuting in large numbers in urban centers, with upgraded roads that facilitate V2I communications and last-mile transit with electric bikes and other relatively small modes of transport. “Transportation operating systems” will pull together data from individual vehicles, e-bikes, drones, mass transit, and infrastructure like traffic lights and parking meters to affect efficient movement with nearly zero traffic accidents.
Ford’s “City of Tomorrow” will take decades to coalesce, if it arrives at all. But for now, the concept offers us an intriguing look at what’s theoretically possible as emerging technologies are applied to solve today’s transportation problems.