The US automaker Ford wants its cars to communicate with the connected homes, thanks to an alliance with the giant Amazon online distribution, as well as drones.
“Ford researchers are developing ways to link connected cars and connected homes,” said Tuesday the manufacturer’s boss, Mark Field, at a Las Vegas press conference on the eve of the opening to the public consumer electronics CES. “Today we announce that we are working with Amazon to connect with our vehicles (virtual voice assistant) and house Alexa hub connected Echo”.
Echo is an electronic device in the form of a vertical black cylinder, combining a 360-degree speaker and a personal assistant voice-controlled, Alexa, able to answer questions about the weather forecast or the latest news, but also control of connected objects in the house.
Amazon had launched in November 2014, initially with a small number of customers by invitation. Sales figures are not disclosed, but the reception was positive enough for the market to be extended to the general public in late June 2015.
Mark Fields and the vice president of Amazon Greg Hart, who joined him on stage, explained Tuesday that the alliance would enable to use Echo and Alexa to communicate with his car from the house, in order to start or the unlock remotely and check the level of fuel or charge the electric battery for example, but also to control the connected home objects from his car, whether to turn off the light or opening the garage door.
The feature should be available “later this year” to owners of vehicles equipped Embedded Sync connectivity system. Today 15 million of them are already on the roads in the world, and this figure is expected to reach 43 million by 2020, noted Mark Fields.
Besides the house, Ford also wants to communicate its cars with drones: Mark Fields also spoke Tuesday an alliance with the DJI UAV manufacturer as part of a contest for developers. The objective is the establishment of a system where the car and the drone exchange information in order to inspect the areas affected by natural disasters and thus accelerate the reaction rate relief.
Ford parallel on Tuesday that the new version of Sync (Sync 3), which will equip its vehicles from this year will be compatible with Android and Apple carplay Auto Google, two systems to integrate the functionality of the smartphone electronic system of the car.
The manufacturer has however not confirmed rumors of partnerships with Google in cars without drivers.
“We will continue to work with other” actors, including “on autonomous vehicles to provide transport as a service” is merely indicated Mark Fields.
“We are very serious with Ford on autonomous vehicles,” he stressed, noting that the group had tripled this year its fleet of cars without drivers used for tests in the United States, to bring it to 30 cars.