A joint project between Purdue University and Ford may have developed five-minute charging for electric vehicles. Researchers said their new type of charging cable is capable of carrying a much higher load without overheating, which has been the barrier to faster charging than the 30 minutes offered by Level 3 chargers.
Purdue’s cables use liquid-to-vapor cooling to carry the higher load without getting too hot. Researchers said so far, the cables’ use has only been in simulators, but they’ll be tested on vehicles in the next two years.
Ford Motor Company this week announced it’s investing more than $11 billion in two plants to produce electric vehicles (EVs) and EV batteries, with Executive Chair Bill Ford saying, “We’re on the cusp of a revolution.”
The company will build two plants in Tennessee and Kentucky to produce electric cars and pickup trucks, along with the batteries to power them. The plants are expected to employ 11,000 jobs in those two states, and at least one will be zero-waste-to-landfill once fully operational.
Ford said he expects 40 percent of the company’s new cars and trucks will be electric.
Walmart has teamed up with automaker Ford and autonomous start-up Argo AI (backed by Ford) to pilot deliveries by autonomous vehicle in several key U.S. markets.
The retail giant, also the largest grocer in the U.S., will offer delivery by driverless vehicle in Washington, D.C.; Miami; and Austin, Texas, using Ford Escape hybrid vehicles outfitted with Argo AI autonomous driving technology. It’s expected to deploy small fleets of the vehicles in each city and plans to grow those services over time.
Transportation network company (TNC) drivers in Miami say they fear losing their income when 1,000 autonomous cars are launched as ride-hails later this year.
Argo AI, Ford, and Lyft announced they’d trial the self-driving cars in Miami and Austin this winter. Drivers for Lyft and Uber say they’re concerned the autonomous cars will cut their rides, hours, and paychecks.
Florida has one of the highest-used TNC networks in the country, and drivers there say the autonomous vehicles are hitting their routes many years ahead of when they anticipated. And because a driverless “robotaxi” cuts a driver out of the ride-hail equation, they say they fear perhaps losing those jobs completely as more self-driving cars hit the roads.
Automaker Ford announced last week it expects 40 percent of its new vehicles to be electric by 2030. The announcement came on the heels of the introduction of the all-electric version of its bestselling F-150 pickup truck (pictured here), which they say boasted 70,000 reservations in the first week.
The company predicted that the cost to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles will fall 40 percent by 2025, as demand rises. Ford hopes to be a solid contender to Tesla and other all-electric vehicle manufacturers and recently invested in two battery factories.
A partnership between automaker Ford and two tech companies has opened an automated, valet garage demonstration site in Detroit, in the same corridor where 40 miles of AV-only highway lanes are planned.
Bosch, Bedrock Technologies, and Ford worked together to build the site, which is available for visits by appointment. A Ford Escape outfitted with sensors and other systems finds and maneuvers itself into empty parking spaces without a driver behind the wheel. The car can sense and react to obstacles, including people, in its way. And the companies say the garage could accommodate 20 percent more cars than traditional structures, which could be outfitted with the technology to convert to automated valet. Garages built this way could also offer charging, refueling, or car wash services.
The demonstration site will be open through September. Read more about it on Ford’s website.
In what many believe is a step toward a greater role in mobility, automaker Ford this week acquired Journey Holding Corporation, which develops intelligent transportation software, and Quantum Signal AI, which develops robotics–notably a testing simulator for artificial intelligence (AI) systems; it develops systems for the U.S. military. Ford said the buys will help advance its Transportation as a Service (TaaS) platform.
Journey Holding will be merged with TransLoc, which was bought by Ford earlier this year and develops technology for transit operations. Together, the entity will provide micro-transit on demand services. Analysts say this week’s acquisitions will help Ford get closer to its goal of launching autonomous vehicles by 2021.
The future of real-world mobility will be the subject of a new research facility established by Ford in Detroit. Corktown, one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods, will become a learning lab for driverless vehicles.
With the cooperation of multiple stakeholders, including local government, Ford will use the neighborhood’s streets to study how new mobility systems will interact with existing infrastructure, including pedestrians. The main goal is to learn how real people will leverage new mobility solutions to get from place to place.
Ford Motor Company’s in-house futurist has started in-depth meetings with U.S. city leaders to try and forecast how shared, autonomous vehicles might affect daily life and what infrastructure, regulations, and other things need to be put into place before widespread adoption. A few highlights from a Washington Post story on the effort:
“‘Somewhere along the way, we had the obvious, but latent, idea that we need to build cars that people want. I think cities have the same thing,’ [Ford Futurist Sheryl] Connelly said, adding that urban planning has become one of the world’s most influential jobs.”
“Ford will begin testing self-driving vehicles in the District early this year, with plans to launch them commercially in Washington, Miami and other cities in 2021. Waymo began rolling out a commercial robo-taxi service in suburban Phoenix in early December, and autonomous shuttles are coming to cities from Youngstown, Ohio, to Jacksonville, Fla.”
“As District [of Columbia] officials put it, they don’t want to be stuck ‘making 100-year decisions for technology that is changing in 10 years.'”
“More recently, the company shifted toward a strategy of not only selling cars, but moving people. Ford is making a five-year, $1 billion investment in the self-driving start-up Argo AI to help build the foundation for autonomous ride-sharing and delivery businesses, and it is growing its shared-van service, Chariot.”
“Self-driving vehicles are just one piece of the bigger picture facing cities, as they try to balance immediate concerns with futuristic ones. That means fixing roads and bridges and finding ways to slow drivers at dangerous intersections, while also focusing on what infrastructure might be needed for the future and what information should be collected and shared as roads, and the people on them, are tied together through digital networks.”
A big priority, the article says, is designing systems and structures that can change very quickly, either with the technology itself or if what experts predict now ends up not being reality.