Ford Ready to Travel Down the Talking-Car Highway

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Ford Motor Co. revealed its plans yesterday to equip its future fleet of vehicles with “talking-car” technology designed to operate on 5G networks. Ford plans to install cellular modems on all new vehicles in production as a first step toward cellular vehicle-to-everything technology, known as C-V2X. As reported by Industry Week, the new technology will enable Ford’s vehicles to communicate with one another, communicate with traffic lights, and even pay for drive-thru services like fast food or car washes. 

While competing auto makers General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have been moving toward WiFi technology called dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), Ford’s move to C-V2X is all about 5G. 

Don Butler, executive director of Ford’s connected-vehicle platform, said, “We’ve been looking at DSRC for a number of years along with Toyota, GM and Honda, so this is not a step that we take lightly in the sense of dismissing DSRC. But we think this is the right step to make given where we see the technology headed.” 

Although U.S. regulators have not yet approved C-V2X, Butler told Industry Week C-V2X is the best solution because telecom companies are already spending billions on 5G infrastructure. DSRC, however, will require new infrastructure, costing billions in government spending and slowing down market integration. 

C-V2X’s technology promises a computer brain designed to enhance road safety. Its signal can transmit from vehicles obscured by buildings, tunnels, and pedestrians with cell phones. “We have the opportunity to provide a wider field of view to autonomous vehicles,” said Butler. “It could literally see around corners.”

Worldwide sales of connected vehicles are expected to reach 72.5 million by 2023, according to IHS Markit forecasts. Ford appears to be poised as a front runner, anticipating all its new U.S. vehicles will include C-V2X starting in 2022. 

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