By Joshua Steier
Technology & Innovation Writer
Sebastian Thurn once said,: “I’m really looking forward to a time when generations after us look back and say how ridiculous it was that humans were driving cars.” The notorious driverless car Stanley, was developed by Stanford University in a contest provided by DARPA. Google created their driverless car from the same methods that Stanford used.
In order to create a driverless car, there’s a lot of different aspects that need to be considered both on the hardware and software levels. For instance, the hardware may be the sensors attached to the car, but the software involved is the program that is run in order for an action to take place. This is analogous to how the human body works as well, we have eyes as “hardware” and our brain takes care of the “software”. Additionally, across multiple college campuses, artificial intelligence is being developed. For example, the Data Science Club at Seton Hall is in charge of the creation of a driverless car program, and other artificial intelligence projects. As artificial intelligence becomes more realizable, more companies are trying to get involved in the field. For example, Ford is trying to get involved in the creation of driverless cars, in order to become more competitive. Ford is trying to give itself a competitive edge through mobility services, changing of location, and collaboration with other companies.
Ford is essentially is trying to differentiate itself from competitors through a focus on mobility services. Mobility services are also called ride- hailing services, which are services that companies like Lyft and Uber provide.
Ford’s traditional business has been in the making and selling of cars, but wishes to change to providing services that Uber and other similar companies provide.
“Manufacturing vehicles requires billions of dollars…”(New York Times Article: “Ford to Invest $1 Billion in Artificial Intelligence Start-Up”) So mobility services could generate returns up to 20 percent, which is higher than the 8 percent it earns currently. In order to accomplish this, Ford is partnering up with Argo AI, which is an artificial intelligence start-up. Ford realizes the future is moving towards mobility services and thus, is getting involved in them.
Furthermore, Ford is changing its headquarters and main development center to Dearborn, Michigan. Ford plans to create very tech centered and energy efficient buildings, like those found in Silicon Valley. The company plans to create campuses with electric bikes and other green forms of transportation. Silicon Valley is located in San Francisco, California and is nicknamed as such due to the large amount of tech companies located there. Silicon Valley is well known for its centralization of start-ups and flourishing tech companies such as Yahoo!, Netflix and many more. Silicon Valley also reflects the current zeitgeist of the tech world. New technology fads are typically started and spread from Silicon Valley. The change that Ford plans to implement should make Ford part of the Silicon Valley environment.
The importance of collaboration to make Ford competitive is made clear by Ford’s initiatives to work with other companies. For example, Ford acquired Chariot, which is a start-up that provides mobility services to those around the San Francisco area, and invested in Civil Maps, which develops mapping technology used by self- driving cars. The collaboration between Ford and Argo AI is the perfect marriage between the creator of cars in the traditional sense, and the creator of cars in the modern sense. These collaborations would easily allow Ford to shift its focus to the current fad, and thus become more competitive.
The change that Ford is about to bring, is a change towards the future. It’s important to notice that Ford is not the only automotive company moving in this direction. General Motors for example, is following Ford’s lead.
In the future, mobility services are more likely to replace the automotive industry, especially with the shift made by automotive companies. Artificial intelligence not only effects the automotive industry. Robotic pollinators were created recently, in response to the perceived extinction of bees. As we approach the future, artificial intelligence will become more integral to our society, whether we realize it or not.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 print edition.
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