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Ford Uses Google For a New Type of Smart Car

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the soon-everything-will-be-google dept.

Transportation 68

RedEaredSlider writes "Ford is using Google technology, specifically its Prediction API, to create a new brand of smart cars. The famous American car company announced it's teaming up with Google to use Prediction API in future cars. The API will be able to use historical driving data and turn it into real time predictions, such as where a driver is headed at the time of a departure. From there, an on-board computer might communicate with the driver, and trigger an optimized power-train control strategy. For an electric car, a predicted route of travel could include an area restricted to electric only driving. Thus, a plug-in hybrid would be able to optimize energy and preserve battery by switching to an all electric mode during travel."

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Google (0)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122376)

The API will be able to use historical driving data and turn it into real time predictions, such as where a driver is headed at the time of a departure.

It's nice to see Google open up data that was previously only used internally within Google.

Re:Google (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#36123892)

>such as where a driver is headed at the time of a departure

Welcome, I am Ford Bob for Car$. Are you trying to go to your drug dealer, today?

Re:Google (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36125040)

The first day it says "It looks like you are going to work. Would you like to stop by Starbucks first?".

Day two: "It looks like you are going to work. Would you like to stop by Starbucks first?"

Day three: off

And then... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122390)

Using the data Google gathers online about you and associating it with your car (you know they would be able to), you could figure out what kind of consumer most often frequents certain roads. You could then determine what kinds of physical ads would be most effective in a given location and sell this data. So here it is - targeted advertisements on billboards, brought to you by google and ford.

Re:And then... (1)

qubezz (520511) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122564)

Some bullet points of the Google Prediction API: [google.com]

  • -Customer sentiment analysis
  • -Upsell opportunity analysis
  • -Suspicious activity identification...

I would be unsurprised if it was sponsored by the FBI [gizmodo.com]? (cops with a budget [nytimes.com] of $4.4 billion), easy one-stop-shopping data collection with a handy web interface, no subpoena needed?

Re:And then... (1)

Betaemacs (1737586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36123516)

I wish they would let the market operate. Since we can't stop all of this data collection, can I at least offer to sell them all of my information directly? That way I at least get some value back for my life data.

So what? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#36125930)

Why do people make such a big deal about targetted ads?

What difference does it make what is on the billboard?

Re:And then... (1)

Reapman (740286) | about 2 years ago | (#36141132)

Ya your right, Billboards might start showing ad's related to their local areas!! Because I know where I live I only see billboards for foreign country businesses. Oh the humanity of it all!

And collecting data? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122436)

Are they also selling all the private driving record to Google? With GPS tracking as well, written with the fine print? Maybe they also will provide for free (as a beer) an in car internet (again all the collecting data is not yours...)?

Future cars (2)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122454)

Are boring. Dumb cars are much more fun to drive IMHO.

Re:Future cars (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122606)

The best car will be the one that makes you feel like you're taking the bus, but on your personal schedule and route. I.e., the one that chauffeurs you.

Re:Future cars (1)

Roduku (950552) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122704)

That's what I've been waiting for... a dial-up destination system. Doubt that will ever come about, though. Think of all the revenue lost when they can't stop you for DUI, speeding, improper lane change and the myriad other traffic related offenses. Also could make a driver's license a thing of the past. But, then, how would they keep tabs on people?

Re:Future cars (1)

Cerium (948827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122854)

Really?

I'm not one to worry about all the tracking and what-not that's going on (though, admittedly, I probably should). But there are a plethora of ways such a system could track you. I'd even argue that it'd be significantly easier than any existing system we have now. For instance, using the whole automated car as an example:

The car will need an on-board computer with internet access so it can accurately look up the "quickest" route to your destination. Since it requires internet access, it could/would have some kind of login functionality to prove that you are an authorized driver of the vehicle. Considering that you would have to (a) login and (b) enter the destination, any monitoring center would then know exactly where you* are going and approximately when you will get there.

Going a step further, they could even have your credentials remotely revoked if the issuing authority needs to stop you for "questioning" or something, forcing the car to either stop dead where it's at or, more likely, route you to a place of their choosing.

If you ask me, these automated future car theories provide even more opportunity for tracking, in a scary sci-fi/thriller kinda way.

-----

* Or anyone who has your credentials. I imagine this would be combated with biometrics or implanted rfid or something, under the flag of "theft prevention."

Re:Future cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36123720)

Ever seen I-Robot?

Re:Future cars (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 2 years ago | (#36127038)

I wouldn't worry about lost revenue, it would be more than compensated for by a reduction in the number of accidents caused those who drive drunk, speed, and improperly change lanes... Computers should be much better at keeping to the rules and preventing accidents than humans.

Re:Future cars (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122852)

The best car will have an engine with a flat torque curve, high amounts of available torque, a high redline, a manual gearbox, a limited slip diff, rear wheel drive, and only enough computing power to manage the engine and other critical mechanical systems.

Re:Future cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122932)

The best car will be the one that makes you feel like you're taking the bus.

Why would I want a car that smells like urine and vomit?

Re:Future cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36125562)

Yes all this driverless automated stuff + privacy invasion bores me to death. give me a manual transmission petrol car any day

Battle of the tech titans, on your dashboard! (1)

phoebus1553 (522577) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122462)

I wonder how MS(Sync) and Google will coexist in the same car. Will Sync go ahead and call AAA for you in an attempt to smear the Google provided route? Will Google go ahead and terminate your Bluetooth connection for you because it thinks you shouldn't be on the phone? Will they both attempt to buy out the ECU for the marketshare of the computer network in the car?

Could be fun, to watch, not to drive.

Re:Battle of the tech titans, on your dashboard! (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122488)

I wonder how MS(Sync) and Google will coexist in the same car. Will Sync go ahead and call AAA for you in an attempt to smear the Google provided route? Will Google go ahead and terminate your Bluetooth connection for you because it thinks you shouldn't be on the phone? Will they both attempt to buy out the ECU for the marketshare of the computer network in the car?

Could be fun, to watch, not to drive.

I'm certain the facebook car already hates it.

Re:Battle of the tech titans, on your dashboard! (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 2 years ago | (#36124936)

Everyone knows it's going to be Apple vs. Everyone soon. I predict a massive dilution in shareholder value coming! They have nothing in their hand and they know it. It's a classic case of luck, and they deserve it to a certain extent. But they are not going to continue getting lucky like iPod+iPhone. I mean, that's like rolling 10 7's in a row.

More fragile complexity (1)

sgage (109086) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122478)

Yet another layer of complexity and technology to squeeze out, what, a couple percentage points of "efficiency"? This is Rube Goldberg nonsense.

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122536)

2% * all cars on the road is still a pretty substancial impact.

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

sgage (109086) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122740)

2% is pretty much the depletion rate. But my point is really that an immense amount of complicated tech is going into a paltry bit of gain. Anything but recognizing the problem. The problem isn't getting a couple of percentage points better mileage (which I doubt this will do anyway). The problem is too many people, too many cars, and declining oil production.

Re:More fragile complexity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36123690)

The problem is too many people, too many cars, and declining oil production.

Where in that list of 'real problems' is an issue that is Ford's responsibility?

Though, now that you mention it, they could address all three by powering new cars with poorly designed nuclear reactors. That would eliminate gasoline usage _and_ sterilize the consumers. Win-win!

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

Hultis (1969080) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122744)

That could be said about pretty much every single technological improvement. Every little helps - we wouldn't have the technology we have today if we dismissed breakthroughs because they didn't completely revolutionize the industry.

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

sgage (109086) | more than 2 years ago | (#36123124)

It's not a breakthrough. It is another layer of complexity to eke out a bit more mileage. What is the infrastructure required to provide this (non) breakthrough? How robust is it?

We don't need cars that get 2% more mileage - we need a Plan B. We haven't got one.

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36123712)

We don't need cars that get 2% more mileage - we need a Plan B. We haven't got one.

There's always the default Plan B -- stop driving.

Re:More fragile complexity (1)

jheath314 (916607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36125128)

Agreed. A much simpler solution would be a little toggle switch you could hit to drop the car into electric-only mode at your discretion. However, such an obvious solution has the disadvantage of not requiring your car to track you and record voluminous details on your commuting habits, which is the real reason behind this innovation.

I don't want "smart" tech, I want obedient tech. And if I was was worried about efficiency, I'd put bigger tires on my truck to get the whole cat in one pass.

Fluff piece (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122546)

No specific model or date mentioned. Car makers have been "promising" many interesting new technologies and features for a while now. Why exactly is this bullshit article considered "news for nerds" again?

1984 (2)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122550)

How soon until it beams all that data to your insurance company and the FBI?

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122654)

Once they've finished implementing that feature, I'm sure they'll release it in the next models

And while you drive... (1)

hilldog (656513) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122552)

Google will delight you with targeted advertising through your car stereo or gps device based on your historical web searches, driving destinations and other sources. Maybe tell you shopping deals coming up at the next mall you pass.

Ford has come a long way (4, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122568)

Up until the past five years, the quality of Ford has always sucked. From the chassis, engine, to interior. The quality has been lackluster. But for the most part, Ford has done a 180. Their Focus and Edge series are really nice with good engines. Now that they're teaming up with Google and other technologies firms that already have the experience, I'm very optimistic about that company. Especially after they beat out GM in sales without much government assistance.

Someone lit a fire under their ass. It's about time! My next car might be Ford. Never in my life have I thought to say that.

Re:Ford has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122976)

Up until the past five years, the quality of Ford has always sucked.

For small cars, yes I agree. But their trucks (F150 thru Superduty) and large SUVs have been some of the best in the market for decades. The interiors have always been bit utilitarian, but the chassis/engine selection were very good.

Re:Ford has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36123590)

Maybe for front-drive vehicles. Rear-drive vehicles with V8 engines have been very reliable over the years, such as the Crown Vic, Mustang, Thunderbird, and particularly the pickup trucks. The Ford Ranger was also a very reliable vehicle (rear-drive, but no V8).

Re:Ford has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36123880)

At least in IT they are complete idiots. I've worked with many companies and their IT strategy is rather scary.

They are making much better vehicles now, but I wouldn't get to excited about SYNC or any software they write. We're talking about using PuTTY into a mainframe just for timecards, a second timecard tool developed in house that doesn't even render correctly outside of IE6. With IE8 compatability mode it's still all horribly broken. They use expensive WAS servers for something that just needs a static HTTP root and have an ugly set of management tools.

Although they have a solid manufacturing, engineering, and powertrain divison, their IT departments have sparse talent and the worst management ever. They all run around talking about "Agile" while forcing deadlines, features, and testing down a preplanned time line. That's not exactly Agile or even close. It's basically a bunch of wannabe developers sitting around talking about how they are great developers. They all eat up the latest IT whitepapers and they believe they are edgy using cool new software. Might I remind you there is no creative freedom and they are just now starting to figure out 10year old trends like VMware. I'm starting to hear crap about the "Cloud" even though they just mean a bunch of computers in the datacenter. Not actual cloud technology (which is still trendy horseshit).

I'm posting this from wireless, using google translate to sanitize my personal writing style, from a town with thousands of Ford employees. The truth comes out eh?

Buy their cars, avoid their software. The new 5.0 is awesome. They finally got their shit together with the vehicles at least. SYNC is nice but it's really quickly going to be spying on the end users. I'd leave that option out.

Re:Ford has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36124314)

FYI: The guy who lit the fire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Mulally

Re:Ford has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36125360)

My next car will NOT be Ford. Because I don't want my car "watching" me.

It's nice that Ford is informing us of this decision though. I wonder how many manufacturers will try to do this without telling us?

My worst car-automation-related nightmare (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122628)

an unholy marriage between Microsoft Sync and Google Prediction API: Auto Navigation Clippy.

Clippy: "Hi! I see you're trying to drive to your drug dealer's place again. Would you like me to take over?"

Driver: "No! Heheh, I don't know why the computer would say that, Mom."

Mom: <glare>

Re:My worst car-automation-related nightmare (1)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 2 years ago | (#36126648)

I immediately thought of auto-formatting in Word, which often leaves me swearing at my computer when it algorithmically decides to deviate from something I just explicitly told it to do. In a car, this could be really dangerous.

WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122644)

OMG, stick with improving reliability, safety, efficiency, etc..

"optimized power-train control strategy"? Completely negated by the endless parade of idiots running late driving shitboxes weaving about you.

"could include an area restricted to electric only driving"? Right beside the hydrogen only driving, which is beside the diesel only driving. Who the fuck thinks this is about to happen.

The date skynet goes online... (1)

tachin1 (763958) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122694)

5 years... 5 years people, once your car finds out it can get free pr0n on the internet, we're all screwed!

Re:The date skynet goes online... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122844)

once your car finds out it can get free pr0n on the internet, we're all screwed!

The situation you describe leads to an exponential proliferation of free pr0n on the internet.

And they shall call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36122750)

Ford "crawler".

Something I always wondered about (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 2 years ago | (#36122902)

You know how you don't shift up going up hills sometimes. A predictive shifter could be made if you had a database of elevation charts.

stop wondering (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 2 years ago | (#36123756)

Automatic transmissions can already handle hills. No database required. What would a database-driven predictive shifter do?

Re:stop wondering (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36124628)

Automatic transmissions can already handle hills. No database required. What would a database-driven predictive shifter do?

In a hybrid: Optimize the operation of the engine on trips so:
  - going through mountains you arrive at the highest pass with batteries near minimum charge - ready to recapture the energy of your descent from the mountain to power your trip across the following valley
  - you arrive at the foothills with full charge to enable you to keep your speed going up the mountains, but
  - you don't burn gas pumping up the charge when you're nearing a destination where you can get a grid-powered charge.

But why "prediction"? (Other than recording your preferred driving style on the route.) Tie it into the navigation computer, which can feed it the planned route and map with elevation data.

Optimized Driving (1)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 2 years ago | (#36124136)

Isn't the point of driving a car that it *isn't* optimized? You see a cool store and stop to check it out, go to get groceries, then maybe go for a spirited drive in the country? It's the essence of the american dream, freedom, mobility, and life on your own terms.

If you're serious about all this energy saving "use less" mentality, then don't drive a car. The solution isn't to reduce our usage, but to find denser, more efficient, power generation and storage to replaces gasoline.

Re:Optimized Driving (1)

hajus (990255) | more than 2 years ago | (#36125212)

Ever ride shotgun? How much trouble have you had going to a cool store and stop to check it out? You'll be able to do it more with this as there's no strict driver to argue and say no.

Re:Optimized Driving (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36125252)

Isn't the point of driving a car that it *isn't* optimized? You see a cool store and stop to check it out, go to get groceries, then maybe go for a spirited drive in the country? It's the essence of the american dream, freedom, mobility, and life on your own terms.

I think you fail to recognize that some Americans dream of sitting in their car while it drives them, thus freeing us to get back to our mobile information fixation devices, or other forms of instantaneous gratifications such as the orgasmatron. The cool stores all have websites, grocers deliver (yes, in my neighborhood), much of the "country" I knew in my youth has been paved...

(Speaking of country, that reminds me: While scanning across several stations I came across a "country music" station -- I don't usually like country music, but I appreciate some forms of it -- the song was something like: "I'm sexier on the Internet", at which point I dubbed both "country music" and radio dead to me.)

Funny, there was a SciFi short story ... (1)

DarkStarZumaBeach (668886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36124452)

... where a smart car discovered through car network chatter that the best way to optimize its service lifetime was to ... get rid of its aggressive driver owner through a series of false failures - and then find a little old lady for a second owner, who kept it parked in a garage 99% of each week.

Kudos to readers who can find the story citation and its authors.

Its some kinda smart car!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36124772)

Am I the only one who read this with a Starship Troopers Commander Tone, "Its some kind of Smart Bug Car"

Not new...Volvo already does this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36126224)

This is not a new concept. Volvo has already incorporated many strategies from using road data from other companies. Volvo cars is ahead of its parent company Ford with data not from Google. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9179697/Car_tech_Building_the_zero_fatality_car
http://www.thinkingcars.com/

The Final Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36126332)

you are driving to work and there are unexpected roadworks that cause you to detour.

System reaction?

Today is work day. Time is morning commute. Car is off route. Car is stolen. Activate demobilisation. Activate full door locks. Acitvate full window locks Redirect exhaust gases into cabin to deactivate thief. Wait 5 minutes. Drive to morgue.

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