Dr. Ken Washington, FORD Intro: INDUSTRY: Automobile

Would you call Ford a data company? Tell us about some of the data-centric initiatives that your company has undertaken.

Ford is a global mobility company with an aspiration to become the world’s most trusted company that designs connected, smart vehicles for a connected, smart world. As such, Ford is committed to connecting every Ford vehicle to the Internet. One of our major initiatives include a strong focus on developing autonomous vehicles, ranging from advanced driver assist features for our consumer bought vehicles, to fully autonomous vehicles for ride service and package delivery fleets and services.

Both variants of autonomous vehicles will be deeply networked and equipped with increasingly capable sensors such as lidar, radars and cameras. When taken together, connected and autonomous vehicles translate into massive data transfer and processing challenges and opportunities. These arise as we seek to build new services for our customers and drive efficiencies into our business operations on multiple fronts. We are working hard to gear up for this exciting future, which clearly depends upon a resilient and healthy Internet backbone.

What was Ford’s incentive to be a Founding Member of the IEIC?  Are you one among the firsts in your industry to make such an effort?

We are very excited to be the only automotive company to be an IEIC founding member. We quickly acknowledged the relevance and importance of a resilient and healthy Internet to our business, given our connectivity and automation ambitions. While vehicles obviously connect wirelessly, there are big opportunities when connected vehicle data merges with other data—a process only possible via the Internet. Therefore, a resilient and robust Internet backbone is imperative to our future. For example, we envision that cities and city infrastructure will one day exchange data regularly with Ford vehicles as part of their approach to making their transportation systems work better for all who work and play in urban environments.

What are the trends you foresee? Any current ones on your radar that are  impacting your (automobile) business?

Many companies are chasing technologies and trends such as connectivity, artificial intelligence and robotics. But we believe winners will be determined by those that humanize solutions and build sustainable business models. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, however he created a sustainable manufacturing model—the moving assembly line. The model allowed him to sell vehicles at an affordable price and with profitably to help build his business.

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