Ford Tackles The Future
【Summary】At a recent talk delivered at the MobilityLA Conference in Los Angeles, Mark Fields, the President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, wowed the attendees with a gripping presentation.
LOS ANGELES, CA — Students of history know the story all too well. Ford and the city of Detroit (and to a lesser extent St. Louis, Mo.), were the proverbial and literal engines that propelled the United States to victory in World War II against the Japanese Empire, fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. While the Soviet Union did the heavy lifting while losing so many troops on the ground in the early years of the war, Detroit and St. Louis assisted the Soviets through the "Lend-Lease" program. The Russians were supplied via the Alaska-Canada Highway, a short lift over the Bering Strait,across Siberia and into Moscow.
As such, by1960 Detroit had the highest standard of living of any city in the world. Today, Detroit resembles Somalia more than it does Silicon Valley. Despite the economic dislocation due to years of deindustrialization, Ford is leading the resurrection of Detroit as it attempts to set the pace in regards to autonomous driving vehicles.
At a recent talk delivered at the MobilityLA Conference in Los Angeles, Mark Fields, the President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, wowed the attendees with a gripping presentation. While pontificating on a wide variety of topics relating to the future of the automobile industry, Fields explained there are more than a few misnomers at work in regards to how autonomous drivers perceive themselves vs. definitive reality.
People say; ‘I like to drive.'‘I am a good driver.'‘I don't trust computers,'" said Fields, while explaining that each of these statements, so often uttered by American commuters, are frequently less than truthful.
Fields articulated that autonomous cars are going to take up an increasing share of the future marketplace. And that the major question we might be asking as consumers is, "How much will this [an autonomous car regimen] cost?"
Fields played a video for the audience showing an autonomous tractor trailer delivering a load of Budweiser beer while the "driver" sat in the back of the vehicle. He noted that Ford is involved in various aspects of the transportation needs of society – police and rescue vehicles, commerce and delivery, as well as related matters. He added the Ford was looking for ways to partner with various cities in the United States and around the world to create a new automotive system that would be beneficial for everyone.
Commuters, "spend one hour per day each way stuck in traffic. About 25 percent of their free time that is not spent working on sleeping is wasted. Around 160 million hours are wasted annually," he said.
Fields explained that traffic congestion comes with large economic costs. There's smog and pollution. The waste of fossil fuel is another. Los Angeles accounts for one-fifth of the national "waste" in this regard in and of itself.
In the future, if Ford has its way, commuters will be spending their driving time by "taking a course" or watching a movie." They'll be listening to music and perhaps even playing an instrument during their commuting hours. All of this will be possible because of autonomous technology. If this future is to become a reality, it appears Ford will be in the fabled catbird's seat —setting the pace and actualizing upon the aforementioned agenda.
Anthony C. LoBaido is a journalist, ghostwriter and photographer. He has worked in 53 nations around the world – from Laos to Lebanon, from Belize to Botswana and from Nepal to Namibia. He also published a book on the Kurds. Some of LoBaido’s favorite stories include attending the British Army’s jungle warfare training in Central America, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his landmine digs in northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as visiting a leper colony in Myanmar. LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014.
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