Google and Ford Team Up to Make Your Next Car Smarter

At Google’s I/O developer conference today, Ford announced a new research project that will use Google’s prediction API to help drivers save gas and drive more efficiently. Ford plans to use Google’s service to analyze data it has collected about drivers’ habits to “predict driving patterns and adjust automobile controls to optimize fuel or hybrid-electric efficiency.” For drivers, this could mean that their next car could automatically optimize its route and performance settings depending on information Ford has learned by analyzing this data in Google’s cloud.

With the help of Google’s API, Ford says, researchers will be able to design systems that can use historical data – where and when a driver has traveled and at what speeds, for example – and turn this into actionable real-time prediction by mashing them up with other realtime data.

How This Could Work

In Ford’s vision, a driver would opt into this system and allow Ford to build an anonymous profile based on the data it gathers from a given car’s telematics system. Based on this data, the system would then be able to predict where you are going depending on the time of day, for example, and optimize your car’s performance settings accordingly. The car could also ask a driver for confirmation as well (“Are you going to work?”).

According to Ford’s Ryan McGee, technical expert, Vehicle Controls Architecture and Algorithm Design, Ford Research and Innovation, “Anticipating the driver’s destination is just one way that Ford is investigating predicting driver behavior. This information can ultimately be used to optimize vehicle performance attributes such as fuel efficiency and driveability.”

All of this obviously takes a lot of computing power (especially when combined with additional realtime data about traffic jams etc.). Because if this, says Ford, the company decided to use Google’s cloud-based platform for this project.

As of now, of course, this is only a research project, but given that Ford and other car manufacturers are already adding Internet connectivity to their cars, this is a natural extension of this concept and show the innovation we can expect to see around connected cars in the future.