The Ford Motor Company has always represented dedication, innovation, good old American ingenuity, and looking further. Nowhere was that more obvious than at their City of Tomorrow Symposium. One of the earliest American car manufacturers, Ford has a long and proud history that continues to this day, but the brand is not resting on its past achievements. The storied automaker is shifting its expectations away from just cars in order to embrace and help build the city of tomorrow – one that still includes some of the world’s best-selling cars and trucks, but offers much more.
Looking To The Past To Shape The Future
A century ago, Henry Ford and his team’s innovation of the first moving assembly line changed the world. Today, the Ford Motor Company’s new ideas and rapidly expanding advanced manufacturing capabilities are still driving people, technologies, and communities. Whether it is infrastructure, street usage, movement, or data-powered services, Ford is committed to helping move people more efficiently.
There is no denying what Ford has accomplished over the last hundred years. People, population growth, movement of goods and services are areas where the company is looking even further by developing innovative solutions to ensure that our lives are significantly improved in the future. “One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather had a vision to build safe and efficient transportation for everyone,” said Ford Executive Chairman, Bill Ford. “I am proud he was able to bring the freedom of mobility to millions by making cars affordable to families and that his vision of serving people still drives everything we do today.”
Redesigning the Urban Landscape
Ford’s City of Tomorrow Symposium was all about integrating mobile technologies together seamlessly in the future. Discussions ranged from strategizing and providing ways to share the road in a more egalitarian way with pedestrians, to showcasing innovative methods for delivering goods in urban environments.
When it comes to what streets are able to become in the future, Ford believes that cities need to balance public goods and business needs. They are leading the way by gathering experts including urban planners, politicians, engineers, media, policy makers, academics, award-winning designers, and business leaders. Ford actively collaborates and is engaged in finding solutions to today’s mobility issues as well as helping to reimagine our current landscape in order to realize the true potential of the City of Tomorrow. “If you want to have a smart city, let’s just get the transportation right first,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford.
A Collaborative Future
The message from the all-day symposium was clear – the future of mobility and transportation will involve collaboration. The symposium focused on how to bring government, private sector, and not-for-profit entities together in order to make the cities of tomorrow equally accessible for everyone. That goes for not just drivers, but also pedestrians and those who use public transportation.
Engaging with and learning from urban residents is one way to realize their needs as echoed by Jim Hackett and University of Southern California’s Alex McDowell, the director of the university’s World Building Institute. While much attention is given to the future of autonomous vehicle technology with a focus on not just the technology itself but how these vehicles will interact in an urban environment, building the City of Tomorrow is so much more. What we learned from Alex McDowell is that reframing the future of tomorrow involves interconnecting energy, society, work infrastructure and culture.
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Movement of People and Goods
People’s behaviors are changing and Ford hopes to match societal values with the ever-changing landscape of our city streets. Ford is committed to making travel safer, more efficient, and creating new mobility solutions. Whether it is connecting your commute from ridesharing companies like Chariot to getting your pizza delivered by self-driving vehicles, their commitment to helping us seamlessly connect and navigate is apparent.
Mark Fields, Former CEO at Ford Motor Company, was dedicated to having fully autonomous vehicles in commercial operation for a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service beginning in 2021. With the kick-off of Ford’s collaboration with Domino’s Pizza, where a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle is delivering pizza to randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ford is close to reaching their goal. If nothing else, this research will help Ford understand the role self-driving vehicles can play in moving goods seamlessly through city streets.
It’s Not a Dream, It’s Reality
Discussing the needs and key issues of our cities today will help shape and create cutting-edge solutions for tomorrow a reality. From backing companies like Argo Al, which is at the forefront of the artificial intelligence that will help launch autonomous vehicles, Ford’s GoBikes, and purchasing shuttle-van startup, Chariot, Ford’s collaborative efforts are helping us all rethink how we move to help our cities to become more efficient. There will still be a place for cars in the City of Tomorrow–and we will always have those who want to drive themselves–but by addressing the ever-changing urban living experience now, Ford is encouraging continued innovation and progress. “We all need to come together and share data so we can take a holistic view of who is using our streets, and when,” says Ali Vahabzadeh, CEO and founder of Chariot.
Transforming the Future
Ford seems to be committed to transforming the future into a better one for all of us. They are dedicated to going further, and looking farther, than ever before. The question remains whether or not the Detroit automaker can help create a more livable city in the future.
The thought of greener, more sustainable cities is promising. Attending breakout sessions, panel discussions, and listening to keynote speakers at the City of Tomorrow Symposium like Janette Sadik-Khan, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation talk about solving street congestion left us feeling optimistic about the future. “Big auto companies are getting into the game of mobility, and not just selling cars,” said Sadik-Khan. The future is closer than it appears, but we are motivated to look further and embrace the City of Tomorrow with Ford’s commitment to mobility and making future transportation solutions a reality.