Ford was rumoured to announce a partnership with Google today at CES in Vegas, but the 115-year-old auto manufacturer has other tricks up its sleeve: Namely, curious new partnerships with Amazon and Chinese drone-maker DJI. In an email to press today, Ford first announced that it's tripling its fleet of self-driving cars, bringing the squad up to 30 test cars, and Ford says that's the most self-driving cars of any auto manufacturer.
The new fleet will use a slick little puck of a sensor from Velodyne for 3D mapping. It's actually called Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK™ Auto sensor.
But those cars just won't drive themselves. Oh, no. They will communicate with your drones, too. Creating drone-to-car communication software with Ford, DJI, the world's biggest drone manufacturer, opens up all kinds of possibilities. One such possibility is emergency response drones taking off and landing from the beds of big F-150 trucks, and then sending data back to the driver.
Working with Amazon, meanwhile, will allow Ford to get your car to also communicate with smart devices in your home, like lighting and security systems, and speakers like Amazon Echo. This integration will work with Amazon's artificially intelligent assistant Alexa. You can image how cool it would be to arrive at home and tell Alexa to turn on the Bulldogs game so you don't miss the kick-off.
Cars are taking centre stage this CES, and this fusion of an auto giant, an internet giant, and a UAV giant shows how all these technologies are converging — in a fast, big way. Ford also announced a partnership with TechStars to provide funding and training for up to 12 new auto-focused startups. So the fun is just beginning.
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