The automotive giant decided to avoid listening to its GPS and drove right into the ocean that is IoT and drones
CES 2016 has been a year of automotive news, particularly in regards to self-driving cars. This has included Lyft and General Motors partnering on self-driving vehicles, a step that shocked the world. That trend continued on Tuesday with Ford’s press conference.
In a move that went against expectations, Ford announced that instead of partnering with Google, as rumors had claimed, that they would be partnering with Amazon and Chinese drone manufacturer DJI to connect their cars with drones and home IoT products. Ford started the day by announcing a tripling of its current fleet of self-driving cars, bringing the number of cars from 10 to 30, which will be powered by a new type of LiDAR sensor, named Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK, from Velodyne.
The partnerships with Amazon and DJI are focused less on the hands-free driving of the future and more on bringing the Internet of Things to the road. The DJI partnership will create drone-to-car software, which will allow drones to connect to cars, sending the information gathered back to the driver. This type of technology could become an essential tool for industries like construction, law enforcement, agriculture, or disaster aid.
The Amazon partnership aims to connect Ford’s on-board software with the myriad of smart home products that Amazon currently sells, in particular Amazon’s Echo personal assistant. The idea would be to allow the car to alert the connected devices so that they are ready when the driver is nearing home. Instead of arriving to a cold, dark house on a winter’s night, people could arrive home to the lights on and that night’s big game already on their television.
While both innovations seem promising on the surface, there are some legitimate concerns. IoT products are still in their infancy, and as such are highly susceptible to security breaches, as was demonstrated in 2015. Connections like the one proposed in these partnerships might not be secure, allowing for intrusions into not just one, but three different types of devices. This is a nightmare not just for digital security, but also for personal security (what do I need a GPS tracker for if I can hack your car).
The partnerships could also get expensive, and not just from the cost of the high-end gadgets that it wants to link. Actually connecting to those gadgets would require a constant internet connection or mobile hotspot. That kind of data usage would not come cheap. Essentially Ford’s proposition is the possibility of hacking or a large wireless bill.
Neither of these partnerships is as exciting as the Google one would have been. Instead of two industry leaders coming together to further the next great innovation in transportation technology, which would benefit the entire populace, we’re getting three leaders attempting to encourage more people to buy expensive gadgets. It fits with the theme of CES, but not with the promise of what has already occurred.
Photo Credit: Ford