Ford was rumored to announce a partnership with Google today at CES in Vegas, but the 115-year-old auto manufacturer has other tricks up its sleeve. Namely, curious new partnerships with Amazon and Chinese drone-maker DJI.
In an email to press today, Ford first announced that it’s tripling its fleet of self-driving cars, bringing the squad up to 30 test cars, which Ford claims is the most self-driving cars of any auto manufacturer.
The new fleet will use a slick little puck of a sensor from Velodyne for 3D mapping. It’s actually called Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK™ Auto sensor.
But those cars won’t just drive themselves. Oh, no. They’ll communicate with your drones, too. (You bought yours over the holidays, along with an estimated half million Americans, right?) Creating drone-to-car communication software, which is what Ford plans to do with DJI, opens up all kinds of possibilities. Imagine emergency response drones taking off and landing from the beds of big F-150 trucks, and then sending data back to the driver.
Working with Amazon, meanwhile, will allow Ford cars to communicate with smart devices in your home, like lighting and security systems, and speakers like Amazon Echo. This integration will work with Amazon’s artificially intelligent assistant Alexa. You can image how cool it would be to arrive at home and tell Alexa to turn on the Red Sox game so you don’t miss the first pitch.
Cars are taking center stage this CES. This fusion of an auto giant, an internet giant, and a UAV giant shows how all these technologies are converging—in a fast, very big way. Ford also announced a partnership with TechStars to provide funding and training for up to 12 new auto-focused startups. Which means the fun is just starting.