Ford today opened up a bit with regard to what it’s been up to with Silicon Valley-based software partner Autonomic, with Ford VP of Mobility Product Solutions Rich Strader and Autonomic CEO Sunny Madra co-authoring an essay on Medium describing an open, cloud-based platform called the “Transportation Mobility Cloud”. The platform is meant to manage information from numerous sources across the transportation ecosystem, including “service providers, personal vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, mass transit systems and city infrastructure, including traffic lights and parking locations,” Strader and Madra write.
It’s about as close to the concept of a city-wide transportation operating system as anything being developed in the present day. According to Strader and Madra, “with this platform, cities will be able to facilitate communication between various transportation methods and services operating within them, including individual vehicle data.” The platform will be capable of processing all that data in real time, enabling consumer-facing services like identity management and payment processing, services for mobility providers such as data/analytics and route-mapping, and much more. And, being an open platform, third parties can build on top of it, using standards set in place by the base platform.
In that way, it’s much like Ford’s SmartDeviceLink open-source platform for in-car mobile device connectivity, which allows other automakers to use Ford’s connectivity protocols.
To illustrate how the Transportation Mobility Cloud could one day make city-wide transit smarter, Strader and Madra lay out two examples. In one, cities could dynamically reroute cars to reduce congestion using real-time location updates from individual vehicles, helping to avoid or alleviate jams in peak traffic hours, or to work around construction, sporting events, and emergencies. In the other, cities could use the platform to create geofenced “emissions-free” zones to combat pollution and greenhouse gases in vulnerable areas.
And of course, the platform could be used to facilitate easier multi-modal transport, coordinating users’ journeys across a variety of different transit options.
“Moving around something as dynamic as a bustling city shouldn’t be an act of frustration; it should be affordable, accessible and enjoyable,” Strader and Madra write. “With the Transportation Mobility Cloud, we can do all this and more — including giving back time people would’ve spent on the road so they can be with their loved ones, plus a cleaner space to enjoy the experience.”