Fun stuff, Information technology, ITS: Intelligent Transportation Systems

Guest Post: How Ford Sync Started A Smart-Traffic Revolution

Ford’s award-winning Sync connectivity system will be inducted as a permanent exhibit in the Mountain Valley, California’s Computer History Museum. This museum is devoted to exhibiting the computing milestones of the last century.

The museum’s curator, Alex Bochannek stated that Ford Sync marks the merging point of automotive and computing platforms, which is why it was chosen for induction. The collaboration between Microsoft and Ford Motor Company on Sync technology exemplifies the changing landscape of our time.

The Ford Sync launched in 2008. At that time, it was only available in the 2008 Focus, as a $395 additional option. This technology eventually became available on all of Ford’s models and today, Ford Sync is in over four million cars. Ford is hopeful that Sync will become more widely available in foreign countries and it’s anticipated that nine million vehicles worldwide will have this technology by 2015.

Since 2008, the majority of Ford’s competitors have begun offering consumers their own version of Ford’s Sync in-car connectivity software. Apple decided to get involved by announcing that certain automakers will have a button that will activate the extremely popular Siri voice-recognition feature.

The upcoming Motor Trend International Auto Show will have plenty of in-car technological advancements to share with its visitors. BMW is expected to debut new navigation technology at one of the show’s marquee stops in Phoenix, Arizona where its tech can be seen at Phoenix BMW centers in 2013.

Liviu Iftode, a Rutgers University computer science professor and Mario Gerla of UCLA, as well as, their colleagues, believe that integrating our disconnected traffic systems, may reduce air pollution and urban congestion. The research group received a three-year, $1.94 million grant. This grant will fund a study dedicated to determining how wireless technology could improve our air quality and traffic control.

According to Professor Iftode, two big problems are air pollution and urban congestion. “We’re trying to use wireless technology to connect drivers to traffic centers where this information is available.” This connection would use on-board navigation systems. Currently, there is technology available to reduce or control traffic within urban settings. However, most of the available technologies are not connected.

One critical piece of their project is the traffic light. He states that traffic lights have been in use for approximately 150 years. They have not changed much during that time. Professor Iftode feels that traffic lights are an excellent place to begin collecting and then sending air quality data. They can also be utilized to obtain information from vehicles and then pass it on to the traffic centers and/or broadcast information to cars in that vicinity.

Katherine Lucius
Katherine has her masters in English and creative writing. She also loves riding horses.

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