“The Future of Car Computing”

A Conversation with Paul Mascarenas, CTO, Ford Motor Co.; hosted by Mark Anderson

MA: There are more computers in a car than in home. OnStar, Ford with Microsoft. Mascarenas is a serious engineer and long-time Ford guy. During the process of figuring out the day-to-day what works thing. Ford decided to go the way of the box, which is a part of automative history and will give them years of competitiveness over their competitors. Is there really a second revolution coming in car computing? It seems that with all apps, etc, there will be a revolution in car computing, despite attempts to control the cockpit.

PM: First time Ford has been represented at FiRe. 5 years ago Ford was managing multiple brands. Through process of divestitures, now focusing on Ford and Lincoln (as premium brand). Laid out very simple but powerful plan to restructure the company in terms of financing capabilities. Had foresight to provide liquidity to see them through the crash. Brand strategy — to deliver very high quality products, that were safe, clean and smart.

Providing high quality, relevant experience to customer.

Changing both the image of the brand and also their image as a company — as a technology company specifically. Think about in-car computing as a. tech built into the vehicle. b. technology that’s brought into vehicle — primarily mobile devices, through an open architecture and connectivity. c. Connectivity outside of the vehicle: car to car, car-to infrastructure, car to cloud, resulting in safety, traffic management and health and wellness (using mobile medical devices to provide real-time information about drivers health and warnings).

Make sure that this tech not only offers tech, but that it’s affordable.

MA: People actually base buying decisions on Synch.

PM: Made very conscious decision to launch Synch in Focus, for affordability and demographics (younger, techno-savvy). From there quickly migrated across all vehicles.

MA: By adding this magic, you transcend international auto barriers.

PM: Now taken to next level with Sync 2: MyFord Touch and My Lincoln Touch (integrating touch screen with steering wheel, natural conversation – recognizes more than 10,000 commands).

MA: Wheels or not, the car becomes a multi-sense, HMI,interactive platform for the drivers and the passengers.

PM: Four key elements to product strategy — design, driving experience, great to sit in, fuel economy. Great to sit in — comfort, quality of materials, cobranding with Sony and Microsoft.

MA: How deep will you go with customization around driver?

PM: Possibilities are endless. Moved from memory settings in seat settings, climate control, etc. Now, there’s the idea of using your phone as a key, fingerprint recognition, iris recognition, which connects a person to a car, rather than a device to a car. EG. renting a car in Detroit that recognizes your biometrics and can adjust your settings.

MA: Communications between vehicles?

PM: V2X: Cars that don’t crash. Think they can apply tech in a way that significantly reduces that number. Short-range communication.

MA: Ants travel down the trail using constant speed — no traffic jams. If a car-to-car system could behave like ants . . .

PM: two things they’re doing with car to car. Safety and traffic management. Density of vehicles that they need equipped is not as high from a traffic related perspective as it is from a safety related perspective. Still in 5 years + mode for traffic control, autonomous vehicles, but there are legal issues. The driver will always be in control. Already launched self-parking.

MA: Why don’t we have autopilot? There could be a higher level of interactivity going on with the driver with the world around while the car takes care of the piloting. Lanes devoted to autopilot.

PM: That’s the way it will be done. In certain lanes, the cars will be doing the driving for you.

Steven Sprague: In the 5 year term, how much do you think about infrastructure assurance, ie integrated cybersecurity in all intersections and infrastructure?

PM: Needs to adopt policy, apply technology and develop technology. It’s about how to employ technology to make this happen.

Christine Thompson: Social implications– how do you launch tech so that senior citizens won’t lose their keys.

PM: New Ford technology allows parents to set maximum speeds, max sound volume, seatbelts required to drive, but there is an issue of privacy. Want tech to be a bigger part of solution. Still many years away from the vehicle being in control, not having a driver able to maneuver, see the road, etc. BUT they can use car to car technology to help in poorly marked driving conditions.