Ford: The Future of Mobility

Disclosure: I was offered a Ford Edge to drive for a weekend. As a Ford influencer I am sometimes given these unique opportunities. No other compensation was given and all views below are my own.

Begin the Countdown!

Being less than two weeks away from the 5th annual Florida Blogger & Social Media Conference aka FLBlogCon (sold out early once again!), I am busier than ever stuffing swag bags, compiling speakers’ slide decks, printing name tags, and finalizing other last minute details.

However, I was excited to take a break from the busy planning to attend Ford’s Smart Mobility meeting at Full Sail University.  Ford and Your Southern Ford Dealers are the presenting sponsor for FLBlogCon, and they are excellent at including bloggers as a key component in getting out their messaging to the masses. And in this case, the messages were Orlando-specific, which was really, really interesting!

The Orlando Survey

Ford wanted to explore drivers’ behaviors here in Orlando so they did an in-depth survey, conducted by independent research company Penn Schoen Berland. It examined driving-related fears, as well as public receptiveness to driver-assist and semi-autonomous technologies designed to ease driver anxiety and commuting hassles. (Translate to the I-4 Ulitmate Project.)

  • 92% of Orlando respondents listed this as concerning – 60% say it is a major concern.
  • Although they don’t trust other drivers, Orlando drivers say they are confident of their own abilities – 64% say they feel safer in the car as a driver.
  • 82% of Orlando’s fear driving in low-visibility situations and want technology that come help this.
  • More than half of Orlandoans would consider an electronic bikes for a commute – thus the Orlando Bike Share! Yes!
  • Nearly 70% of those surveyed say they would want (and rely) on driver technology to help them navigate dangerous situations on the road,
  • And almost 90% said they would be more comfortable in a car equipped with such technology.

Ford Smart Mobility at Full Sail

Technology and Autonomy

Just an FYI – fully autonomous vehicles are coming! They just are so get over your fear of it. 😉 

And until then, you can experience semi-autonomous technology to help you drive better. In fact, I recently got to experience the technology in the Ford Edge, which I have to say, is one of the most exciting cars I’ve ever driven.

A cross-over SUV, the Edge feels like a luxury car when you sit in the driver’s seat. Two-tone leather, sleek dashboard, and cool electronic interface. (I drove the X-Package version. Click to enlarge the photos below.)

And while the car looked beautiful, it was the driving experience that differentiated itself. There are several autonomic systems in the Edge – blind spot notification, rear assist, SYNC phone, driver alert warnings.

Blind Spot Warning

This is perhaps the single coolest item, and if I could choose just one as a must-have, this is it. A little yellow light warns you whenever there is a car in your blind spot – genius!

Blind spot warning

Lane-Keeping Aid

This one surprised my husband and I as we were driving home from Clearwater, where we spent the weekend with the Edge. As most of you know, the lanes on I-4 are constantly being shifted, and so the edge detected we were drifting out of our lane (not really but it was a good simulaton as if my hubby was falling asleep at the wheel), and so the steering wheel vibrated and a bell toned to warn Joe.  And if he were truly asleep and unable to make the lane correction, then the Edge would steer him back into the lane autonomously!

Active Park Assist

My son  could probably use this more than me, but the Edge has sensors to measure parking spaces and steers automatically while the driver controls the gas and break. There is a trailer assist, too, on the F150 – we could have used this when we had our boat!

Other Orlando-Specific Info

One of the panel members who spoke to us was Frank O’Dea, the Director of Transportation Development at Florida Department of Transportation.

UCF is a Major Simulation Hub

O’Dea talked about how UCF is the world’s hub for simulations – so cool! In fact, at the Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulations, which is federally sponsored, over $25 million in sponsored research has been done for auto safety – right here locally!

In addition to the auto research, O’Dea has also been looking for a solution to the following two points:

  • Orlando – one of the Highest pedestrian mortality rates in the country.
  • Orlando needs to revisit public transportation.

I-4 Ulitmate Project

We’ve all heard about it, but I didn’t know it is a $2.3 billion project that is being both publicly and privately funded. And by really investing to get it done now, officials are hoping it should only take 6 years to complete versus 20. 

Some of the improvements include:

  • 4 new lanes in each direction
  • Express lanes: all electronically controlled
  • Variable tolls – based on congestion
  • No trucks in express lane
  • Pacing of on ramps

Officials are also looking at other commuter choices:

Ford is also considering some other non-car options for its customers. Check out the concept e-bike that would be charged by your Ford car’s battery and could easily be toted from place to place – click to enlarge:

I think it is pretty neat Ford as a global company has the foresight to realize they can play a major part in alleviating congestion locally!

To see how my hubby Joe and I liked our time with the Ford Edge – check out this series of short videos!