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Ford invests in the cloud to prepare for connected cities

Ford is spending big to show they're as much a software company as a car manufacturer

By Jennifer Harrison May 9, 2016

Technology is changing the automotive industry and manufacturers have are adapting to stay at the top. When self-driving cars take over the roads, the car manufacturers might soon be relegated to providing parts for the service providers like Google or Uber. The big car companies want to avoid becoming a supplier like Foxconn providing parts for Apple. Instead, they’re hiring software engineers so they can provide their own future services as well.

Ford has a good head start on most manufacturers. They test their self-driving cars in purpose built towns and drive them in total darkness with the use of lasers. Even their current models are becoming very smart, with the ability to read traffic signs and see around corners. Ford doesn’t want to become irrelevant or just a supplier of car shells as technologies change our cities and our transport systems. Their Smart Mobility Plan looks to keep them at the forefront:

Ford is preparing for a world where cars will need to be smart, connected, autonomous, and work with big data from connected city-wide systems. This means software engineers are going to be just as important as mechanics and car designers. To help with this, Ford just invested a cool $182.2 million into Pivotal, a cloud-based software company in San Francisco. Ford sees this as a way to improve how they develop software moving forward and how the company uses analytical tools in software labs for Smart Mobility.

This is further evidence of Ford’s intent to be a leader in auto and mobility industries. “Investing in Pivotal builds on our current strengths in software development,” said Marcy Klevorn, the new board member at Pivotal. “We plan to quickly add new state-of-the-art software engineering capabilities across the Ford enterprise.”

Ford and Pivotal employees working on a Dynamic Shuttle app. Image: Ford

Pivotal also appear to be excited about the expanding friendship between the companies. “We are at a major inflection point in global business, and Pivotal is at the fulcrum of that change,” said Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO. “We are collaborating with iconic companies like Ford to help transform their businesses with our unique software development methodology and modern cloud platform and analytics tools. We are thrilled to create a deeper partnership with Ford through this investment as we drive its evolution to becoming both an auto and mobility company – reinventing yet again how the world moves.”

The partnership with Pivotal will deliver many advantages but the most immediate includes using their next-gen cloud platform and analytics for projects like the Dynamic Shuttle pilot programme. In a few decades, these technologies might help us travel across our cities.


Main image: Ford