During a speech Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett announced his company is now “looking beyond just vehicles” by connecting entire transportation systems to “transform the way people move.”
In an op-ed he wrote for the Recode blog prior to his speech, Hackett wrote:
[O]ver time, as our towns and cities were designed around the automobile, roads overtook the community centers. Where people once gathered in the streets and town squares, there are now highways and multi-lane roads. Perhaps worst of all, time we used to spend with each other is now often wasted in congestion and traffic. Thirty years ago, we spent an average of 16 hours in traffic per year. Now, we spend 38 hours. The price we paid for the freedom to move was the creation of a world where roads were built for cars.
Today, the transport systems of most global cities have reached capacity. And yet, more and more of us seek the benefits of great urban centers. Faced with this rapid urbanization and the pollution and congestion that comes with it, we have to admit that the model of the past is no longer tenable. It’s clear that we need to update cities to more efficiently move people and goods. In the process, we will improve the quality of life for all.
Hackett wrote that Ford’s “Living Streets” plan would “bring our streets into the sharing era and the sharing economy” by integrating “new mobility technologies,” into existing “smart city” concepts. He said that by “developing smart cars for a smart world,” his company could help people “reclaim the streets for living.”
The program would use artificial intelligence to develop autonomous and “connected” vehicles to engage in a “complete disruption and redesign” of the road transportation system, affecting everything from parking and traffic flow to the delivery of goods to the marketplace. As a result, traffic congestion would be reduced, transforming the roads themselves into “more public spaces.”
Hackett said Ford has already begun collaborating with cities, civic organizations, urban planners, technology experts, and designers to develop these “new ways of moving people and goods.”