Ford and St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University have together developed a data communications system prototype that they say has the ability to further advance the connected car of the future. Development of the prototype has also allowed Ford to file several different patents for technologies related connected cars and ensuring the reliability of future communications systems.
The goal of the research project was to improve communications technologies so they could maintain a reliable connection between vehicles and the data cloud, even if the connection is poor or there is a network overload. To do this, the team created an “intelligent connectivity manager,” to transmit data to the cloud as efficiently as possible, whether it’s cellular, Wi-Fi or another type of signal.
In the case of connected cars, such a system could be crucial to driver safety. Ford engineers ran scenarios where a car enters a tunnel and encounters black ice, but cant properly relay a warning to the car behind it as the connection is poor. If there was a third car exiting the tunnel, Ford’s connectivity manager would use that cars connection to relay the info to the car behind, as long as the connection was stronger. If no other cars are around, the connectivity manager would wait to send the message until the first car leaves the tunnel and gets a stronger reception.
In non-emergency situations, Ford’s connectivity manager would scan the region and determine the best point for service delivery. Going forward, Ford says all vehicles could be equipped with such technology, which would create a universal connectivity map housing smart road and smart city data. This would mean the vehicle with the strongest connection – no matter the type, could help all vehicles in the area create a stronger connection to the cloud.
The new systems, which are also used by cosmonauts on the International Space Station, will be finalized by year’s-end and the results could be integrated into Ford production programs in the future.