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Ford Motor Company’s executive chairman Bill Ford has called on the mobile industry to help develop smarter transport systems for the future.

In a keynote address at Mobile World Congress, Ford – the great-grandson of legendary founder Henry Ford – outlined the need to develop intelligent vehicles and transport systems and the role that the mobile industry could play in creating inter-connected transportation networks to relieve pressure on the world’s road networks.

Ford became the first ever car company to launch a vehicle at Congress, unveiling the B-MAX on Monday. The B-Max is the first car in Europe to feature Ford’s SYNC, their voice-recognition system that’s already available in some U.S. cars. The system links audio, phone and GPS systems and will also call emergency services in the event of a crash.

With roads close to their saturation point, research is showing the only way to ease congestion is with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. For instance, a German study found that just five cars per thousand that communicate with one another could significantly reduce gridlock.

His forecast for mid-century transportation:

“Pedestrians, bicycles, cars will be woven together into a single connected network…We’ll see the first vehicles able to navigate complex environments on their own,” he said. “You’ll be able to plot and reserve a parking space before your trip, and your car will park itself when you drop it off, maximizing parking density. Gridlock in urban centers will be reduced. Personal ownership will remain, but we’ll complement it with instant sharing services. Software will plot either the most efficient or enjoyable route.”

“The telecommunications industry is critical in the creation of an inter-connected transportation system where cars are intelligent and can talk to one another as well as the infrastructure around them,” Ford said. He added that no single company or industry will be able to tackle the issue alone. “I believe our two industries are critical partners in achieving a future where transportation continues to represent freedom, power and economic growth and we’ll get there if we work more closely together than ever before.”


Ford’s ‘Blueprint for Mobility’ envisages vehicles communicating with each other, transport infrastructure and mobile devices in the future. “Cars are a great untapped opportunity for the telecommunications community,” Ford said.

Bill Ford’s keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress was the first to be delivered at the communications industry conference by an automotive industry executive, and followed his address at the TED 2011 conference.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled plans to integrate Apple’s Siri into its electronics system that would allow drivers access to their iPhone apps using voice commands. The program, called the Drive Kit Plus will work in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle App to translate the iPhone’s screen onto the in-car system screen.

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