Ford highlights smart mobility, new infotainment generation

January 08, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Autonomous driving is only one facet in the spectrum of what constitutes individual mobility of the future. At the CES, Ford introduced 25 mobility pilot projects designed to solve transportation challenges through smart technologies. Plus, the new SYNC 3 infotainment platform.

Like Audi, BMW and others, Ford focused on automated driving - but not only under the angle of enabling a more relaxed and safe driving style. Instead, the carmaker tried to answer questions that go beyond technology and touch areas such as societal and legal issues. Nevertheless, the technology took centre stage. Ford's automotive driving technology carrier utilises four roof-mounted Lidar sensors to scan its environment within a radius of some 70 metres. Though the approach with the roof-mounted sensors is regarded by competitors and suppliers as unrealistic for aesthetic and cost reasons, it offers a very exact and detailed image of the surroundings, enabling the vehicle electronics to identify pedestrians, cyclists and even small animals. The data captured by the rotating sensor are used to create a virtual 3D map of the surroundings.

At the CES, Ford also showed for the first time its new SYNC3 infotainment system, developed in close cooperation Texas Instruments and containing several contributions out of TI's development department. The system is built around TI's OMAP5 processor. For wireless communications it contains TI's WiLink 8Q single-chip solution for WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 which also takes the part of navigation reception for all GNSS systems (GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo). Camera connection is established through FPD Link III SerDes chips. All together, these building blocks enable the SYNC 3 to offer handsfree Bluetooth connectivity, enhanced driver interactivity and improved voice recognition capabilities, claims TI.

With this WiFi platform Ford has created the foundation for further over-the-air software capabilities though this feature has not been confirmed yet. According to media reports SYNC 3 runs under a QNX operating system. While neither QNX vendor Blackberry nor Ford officially confirm this detail, it would represent a remarkable departure from Ford's long-time partner Microsoft. The bad news: SYNC 3 won't be available in Europe anytime soon. A Ford spokesperson said that since in Europe the rollout of SYNC 2 is just