IEIC Special Coverage | Dr. Ken Washington

Ford Motor Company, Chief Technology Officer

The COVID-19 crisis prompted Ford to change how we work in ways that depend deeply on a resilient Internet, and as such, presents a very demanding stress test.  First, like in many other companies, office workers at Ford have transitioned to working from home.  Meetings are conducted using telepresence connections with the vast majority including video to enhance the experience. Our designers are using high fidelity virtual reality systems to conduct virtual collaborative design reviews. In these sessions, virtual 3D digital twins of our vehicles are displayed to multiple team members at different locations at the same time, allowing important product development work to continue during these challenging times.  Another stress test involves engineers at Ford who have set up engineering work stations at home and access supercomputers remotely to perform complex modeling tasks.

For our customers, Ford dealers have turned to conducting business online as well, including such measures as online sales and remote customer service. Ford also is a leader in the mainstream rollout of connected vehicle technology that helps our customers stay connected to key services such as real-time navigation while driving. These technologies require a strong Internet backbone for Ford and cellular and service providers to rapidly and reliably deliver on-demand features that can be extremely important, especially when going at higher speeds. Our service centers continue to operate by transitioning to work from home arrangements, resulting in new patterns of voice traffic on the Internet.  Finally, our engineering and manufacturing teams sprang into action quickly to develop and manufacture critically needed supplies of personnel protection equipment for healthcare workers.  This critically important work would not have been possible without having uninterrupted access to Internet services.  Ford is a global business with operations in multiple regions and countries including China, North America, Europe, and South America. As such our business drives massive amounts of data to crisscross the globe at any moment in the day as we conduct video conference meetings, joint design reviews, service calls, sell vehicles, and provide service to our customers.  None of this would be possible without a resilient and reliable Internet backbone.