Ford Motor Co. kicked off its Smart Mobility tour at Jefferson Community and Technical College today, highlighting new innovations the company has developed.
Attendees were treated to a short presentation by the lead designer of some of the products, Scott Lindstrom, and the senior IP lawyer for the projects, Fred McKenzie, followed by demonstrations.
People are eager for products that serve as solutions for multi-modal urban mobility, Lindstrom said, and as the population increases along with the urbanization of America, people will need to find creative ways to get to and from work.
This need prompted Ford to launch a design challenge to create an electric bicycle. The company received around 100 submissions for the “Handle on Mobility” experiment and moved three of the submissions to prototype phase.
The “MoDe: Me” weighs 25 pounds and is collapsable, so you can bring it into work, stash it in any car or take it on a bus.
It links to your mobile device and drops a pin on a map to remind you where you’ve left your car; it also drops a pin at the location where you parked your bike. In addition, if a vehicle is following too closely, a device on the back of the bike alerts the rider by gently rattling the handlebars.
It isn’t fully electric — you still need to pedal, but it does have a motor and it has “pedal-assist” technology. This includes a “no sweat” mode, which increases electric pedal-assist based on your heart rate so you arrive at work “sweat-free.” (No word on how it helps with doggone Kentucky summers.)
There also are two other bikes available: the “MoDe:Pro” is a heavy-duty bike made for making deliveries, and the “MoDe: Flex” is an e-bike for bike enthusiasts and can be configured for the road, mountain or city driving.
Ford is “on the journey to full autonomy,” said McKenzie, who then introduced certain “driverless” features that are already available or are on the horizon. He said the company plans to have some kind of “driver-assist” technologies in every car in five years and that Ford already leads in the availability of driver-assist technology.
Ford has created SYNC, which pairs cars with your smart phones, and is preparing version three, which will launch on Louisville-made Ford Escapes.
Ford also showed off its already popular active park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping aid, and blind spot monitoring features. The park-assist measures the spot and then parallel or perpendicularly parks for you.
For the first time in Kentucky, Ford also demonstrated the Pro Trailer Backup Assist that will be available for vehicles with a travel hitch. It allows drivers to navigate a boat on a trailer, for example, down a boat-ramp using a separate small steering wheel that makes positioning the boat trailer easier as you back up.
The tour will continue in Orlando, Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles throughout this summer and fall.