Ford envisions a City of Tomorrow with no traffic, pollution, or road accidents

Article by Christian A., on January 11, 2017

Imagine a large city that is clean and green and laden with highly advanced technologies, brimming with autonomous vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians not having to worry about any accident or collision. Certainly, this city is one that starts as a dream. Could it be realized or will it remain just a dream?

Currently, no such city exists. Even in small cities, vehicle accidents frequently occur and the amount of pollution is increasing each day. In a large metropolis, there are the issues of heavy road traffic, lack of road discipline and scarce parking space. In many cities around the world, air pollution has become a major problem, with heavy smog wrapping the urban areas in one sweep every morning. So, if you ask us if a city like this would be possible in the near future, the answer is no. But, we also aren’t saying that it is impossible.

If you ask Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, his answer would be that such a city could be achieved. Bill is heavily betting on the result of the “City of Tomorrow” project initiated by Ford’s City Solutions team in cooperation with different cities around the world and with Bloomberg Philanthropies. According to Bill, the issue regarding cities is not just about road congestion – it is a mobility challenge. He noted that this mobility challenge is a massive issue that affects people’s access to clean drinking water, food and a safe place to live as well as health care and their ability to find a job.

Ford’s City of Tomorrow aims to address this issue, envisioning a transportation ecosystem where autonomous and electric cars, connected vehicles as well as ride-sharing and ride-hailing services – mobility advancements that are expected to be achieved in the near term – are able to interact with urban infrastructure. Ford’s vision is premised on the expectation that carmakers would launch autonomous vehicles in cities around the world in the next five years – the carmaker itself is planning to introduce its first fully autonomous vehicles in 2021.

Ford is also expecting EVs around the world to outnumber their gasoline-powered counterparts in the next 15 years. Likewise, the US carmaker is expecting the continued rise of ride-sharing and ride-hailing operations, including its Chariot app-based, crowd-sourced ride sharing service. So far, Chariot’s operations are limited in San Francisco, California and Austin, Texas, although it will be expanding to eight cities -- at least one of which is located outside the US -- this 2017.

While the idea of a City of Tomorrow seems far off, Ford is actually not rushing things. The carmaker is basing its expectations on the current pace of technology development – in short, it is optimistic that it will realize its vision.

In the near future, Ford expects vehicles to be able to communicate with transportation operating systems, thereby prompting several big-time technology changes like wireless charging and enhanced connectivity. It also expects cities to employ new operating systems to help them to centrally manage several aspects of city transportation system.

In the long term, Ford expects the City of Tomorrow to be realized with roads filled with mostly electrified autonomous vehicles. Likewise, Ford expects the City of Tomorrow to employ high-speed mass transit systems as one mobility solution. In addition, Ford expects drones to fulfill several functions while data from the transportation ecosystem are now seamlessly integrated into the cities’ operating systems.

Ford expects all these changes – coupled with the use of advanced technologies – to get rid of traffic jams, lower emissions and almost completely eliminate road accidents. Moreover, since people now prefer ride sharing services and public transports, space once used for roads and parking areas could now be converted into green space and parks.

Press Release

City of Tomorrow

Beyond vehicles, Ford is working with cities around the world to help address growing mobility challenges in urban environments, including gridlock and air pollution.

Ford’s City Solutions team – the only one of its kind in the auto industry– is working with cities around the world to propose, pilot and develop mobility solutions. The team also is beginning to collaborate with Bloomberg Philanthropies and its global coalition of mayors.

“This is an issue that goes far beyond congestion. It is one that represents a massive challenge to mankind, one that affects our well-being and access to health care, clean drinking water, food, a safe place to live and even the ability to find work,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “By solving the mobility challenge, we have the chance to create a better world for future generations. It’s both an exciting opportunity and a big responsibility.”

Ford today presented its vision for the “City of Tomorrow.”

Ford’s City of Tomorrow looks at how near-term mobility advancements – including autonomous and electric vehicles, ride-sharing and ride-hailing and connected vehicles – interact with urban infrastructure and create a transportation ecosystem.

For example, Ford is imagining a world in which reconfigurable roads fluidly respond to commuter needs and traffic flow. Bikes and drones provide last-mile solutions for both people and goods.

The Future: Near Term
Within the next five years, Ford expects autonomous vehicles will be introduced in cities around the world. This includes Ford’s first fully autonomous vehicles in 2021.

At the same time, the company expects continued growth in electrified vehicles – with global EV industry offerings eventually outnumbering gasoline-powered offering in the next 15 years.

Shared modes of transportation will continue to gain popularity, such as the Ford’s Chariot app-based, crowd-sourced ride sharing service, which is expanding globally.

Chariot, which currently operates in San Francisco and Austin, Texas, is growing its operations to eight cities this year, including at least one city outside of the U.S.

In Ford’s vision of the near-term future, connected communications between vehicles and infrastructure also will grow:

Vehicles will be capable of connecting with other vehicles and cities’ transportation operating systems. Ford alone will equip 20 million cars globally with built-in modems in the next five years.
As these vehicles and other connected vehicles are introduced into cities around the world, cities themselves will change. Large-scale innovations likely, including wireless charging and enhanced connectivity.
These changes could give city transportation managers all-new operating systems, which allow them to manage multiple aspects of their city transportation system centrally, including traffic flow and vehicle emissions.
The Future: Long Term
Further out, Ford sees the City of Tomorrow with significant concentrations of autonomous vehicles, most of which will be electrified.

Mass transit will improve for the largest cities with new technologies like advanced high-speed public transit. Other innovations could include:

Drones that will play many roles. For example, they could be quickly deployed to survey and map the hardest-hit areas following earthquakes, tsunamis or other major disasters
Advanced transportation operating systems that more robustly and seamlessly integrate data from all aspects of the ecosystem. This includes vehicles, bikes, drones and mass transit as well as street lights, parking meters and charging infrastructure
Large-scale implementation of advanced technologies for flexible traffic management coupled with autonomous vehicles – eliminating traffic jams, reducing emissions and bringing traffic accidents to nearly zero
Converting road space into green space and parks, allowing for higher quality of life and healthier communities
“For more than 100 years, Ford has been part of the community and the trusted source for automotive transportation,” Fields said. “Now, we want to work with communities to offer even more transportation choices and solutions for people – for decades to come.”

City of Tomorrow Symposium
As part the North American International Auto Show, Ford is hosting a symposium on the City of Tomorrow at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. Together with partners TED, The New York Times and VICE Media, Ford has created sessions with thought leaders, mayors and prominent leaders to discuss the mobility challenges, opportunities and emerging solutions that will shape the City of Tomorrow.

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