Ford have just announced a new cloud connected concept car called the Evos – and it looks very cool!
· Ford Evos Concept showcases Ford’s first truly global design language and a new vision for customer-focused and intuitive technologies
· Dramatic four-door, four-seat fastback concept with state-of-the-art lithium-ion plug-in hybrid powertrain previews Ford’s new global design language with distinctive exterior and interior design cues
· Driver engagement technologies explore seamless enhancement of the driving experience, driver well-being and smart, electrified powertrain.
· Ford Evos Concept makes global debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Ford’s global Research and Innovation team, led by Paul Mascarenas, was tasked with building Evos Concept around a technology experience as visionary as the design. The result signals how Ford intends to build on the momentum of innovations like the SYNC in-car connectivity system.
“At Ford, the future of technology in the car will be defined by the experience that it delivers to the driver and passengers,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation. “We see technology as more than just an impressive list of microprocessors, sensors and software; it’s about the application of that technology to create an experience that enhances the driver’s time behind the wheel.”
The concept’s technology experience embraces a new generation of driver interaction and awareness currently under development in the Ford Research and Innovation laboratories. Seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the driver’s ‘personal cloud’ of information is at the heart of the vision for its capabilities.
“The possibilities are fascinating when we explore how to enable a seamless lifestyle between home, office and car linked by access to the driver’s personal information,” Mascarenas said.
With information from the cloud, the vehicle can provide the same connected lifestyle the driver experiences at home or office. The car knows the driver, and automatically adapts handling, steering and engine controls to deliver an exceptionally dynamic driving experience.
Ford researchers are focusing their efforts in this area to deliver on four key customer benefits: personalisation, seamless enhancement of the driving experience, looking after the driver’s well-being and delivering smart electrified powertrain optimisation.
The personalised, cloud-connected lifestyle
While today’s Ford products provide drivers with many personalisation options, cloud connectivity will enable future Ford vehicles to take the experience to the next level.
Drawing from a detailed understanding of the driver’s preferences and driving habits, the Ford Evos Concept combines this personal information with additional data from the cloud, such as the driver’s work schedule and local traffic or weather conditions. This information provides a personalised and seamless experience as the driver transitions in and out of the car.
“We’re researching how we can use patterns or preferences set by the driver to make life simpler,” said Mascarenas. “The car gets to know you and can act as a personal assistant to handle some of the usual routines of a daily commute.”
It could automatically play the same music or news program that was just streaming at home, or heat or cool the interior to an ideal temperature before the driver gets in without having to be requested by predicting departure time based on his calendar. Wirelessly communicating with devices in the home, it could close the garage door and switch off the lights automatically as it pulls away.
“This cloud-connected vision shows the enormous potential of tailoring the driving experience to suit the exact personal tastes and moods of the driver,” said Mascarenas. “From recommending a great driving road from friends on your social networks or resetting your alarm clock to let you sleep in when a morning meeting gets cancelled!”
Enhanced driving experience
Ford Evos Concept explores adaptive vehicle technologies to redefine the driving experience.
Current technology requires vehicle chassis settings to be defined based upon the abilities and tastes of a cross-section of drivers and the topography of typical roads. The concept foresees tuning handling and performance to the road ahead and the specific individual behind the wheel.
Learning driver habits and capabilities, the technology can overlay map and weather data sourced from the cloud to adjust powertrain, steering, suspension and braking systems for optimum enjoyment, comfort and safety. Because the vehicle is adaptive and honed to maximum performance based on the situation, it takes driving engagement to a new level.
Ford researchers have already developed technologies focused on driver wellness, such as the heart-rate monitoring seat and certified allergy-free interiors. With a seamless connection to the cloud, the Ford Evos Concept monitors the physical state and workload of the driver and adjusts the driving experience accordingly.
“Our wellness research and technologies are focused on relieving driver stress and enhancing their situational awareness,” said Mascarenas. “Drivers around the world are spending more time behind the wheel, and the car should not be another stress point in their lives.”
The Ford Evos Concept is also equipped with advanced air quality sensors and filtration systems to help allergy sufferers. Location aware, it can access air quality data from the cloud and proactively suggest a healthier route to the destination.
In dynamic driving situations, the vehicle may simplify the appearance of the instrument panel to display only necessary gauge information and switch the driver’s connected smartphone to “Do Not Disturb” mode to help keep the focus of attention on the road.
Cloud-optimised hybrid powertrain
Completing the vision for the Ford Evos Concept is a state-of-the-art lithium-ion plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain providing the same next-generation performance and fuel economy as the Ford C-MAX Energi scheduled for introduction in North America in 2012 and Europe in 2013.
Ford ‘powersplit’ hybrid architecture allows the electric motor and petrol engine to work together or separately to maximise efficiency. The advanced powertrain typically runs in all-electric mode before switching to charge-sustaining hybrid mode for continued optimal fuel efficiency.
Cloud connectivity would provide further opportunities to enhance performance and efficiency by selecting the optimum combination of powertrain modes for any given journey.
“Access to historical driver behaviour and travel patterns allows us to calculate the optimal fuel and energy efficiency by predicting the destination,” said Mascarenas. “Our researchers are working to increase understanding of driver behaviour, develop accurate protocols to predict it and enhance the trip by providing the smartest use of fuel or battery for the situation.”
The cloud-optimised powertrain would automatically ‘know’ when to save energy and switch modes, using information about the vehicle’s predicted travel route, any emission zone restrictions during the journey and current weather conditions.
In the future, communities may place firm restrictions on the types of vehicles allowed to use certain roads or highway lanes, and some city centres may choose to be open only to full electric vehicles. Helping drivers comply with such regulations could therefore be among the benefits of this technology. For example, the French government is considering creating zones mandating lower emissions, while cities such as London, Berlin, and Stockholm already have them in place.
This capability would further enhance the performance of Ford’s advanced PHEV technology, which offers an overall driving range of more than 500 miles (800 kilometres) using the battery and engine – more than any other plug-in or extended-range electric vehicle.
“With its leading-edge ‘cloud-optimised’ PHEV powertrain offering outstanding efficiency and range with supreme driving enjoyment, the Ford Evos Concept highlights our vision for greener, smarter vehicles with outstanding customer appeal,” said Kuzak.