Ford leads the way for innovation with new Fairfax Radio Voice-Activated App and Electric Bike Experiment For Connected Urban Journeys

Thu, Mar 5, 2015

  • Ford announces new Fairfax Radio app for Ford SYNC with Voice Control and AppLink to deliver news, talk and sport
  • Ford expands its Ford Smart Mobility plan; announces Handle on Mobility prototype electric bicycle (e-bike) experiment
  • Supported by a prototype journey-planning app, Handle on Mobility explores the integration of e-bikes for commuters and commercial users with automotive and public transportation options
  • Ford also displays its Info Cycle experiment, an open-source data-gathering initiative designed to enhance the urban biking experience – whether it is an e-bike or a traditional bike
  • Ford Smart Mobility is Ford’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data

MELBOURNE– Ford Motor Company at Mobile World Congress announced this week a new Fairfax Radio app that customers will be able to voice-activate using Ford SYNC with AppLink technology, and stay connected on the move.

Ford also revealed it is expanding its global Ford Smart Mobility plan with a new experiment to study how electric bicycles can work seamlessly with cars and public transport to deliver faster and easier daily commutes and help businesses operating in urban centres.

AppLink in Australia

For Australia, Fairfax Radio will deliver news, talk and sport highlights from the Fairfax Radio Network. The Fairfax Radio Network app plays live and recorded news, talk and sport from stations across the Fairfax Radio Network, including Sydney’s 2UE, Melbourne’s 3AW and Magic 1287, Brisbane’s 4BC and Magic 882, Perth’s 6PR and NTS. Drivers can listen to live radio, switch to hourly news updates, and even call the selected station via voice command.

“Across the world AppLink helps customers integrate their devices and the apps they know and love into their car,” said Don Butler, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford Motor Company. “The new app ensures drivers won’t have to wait to know when their team scores, can easily access music and radio shows, and even find a cash machine, while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

The new app was announced by Ford at Mobile World Congress during the panel discussion “Is it possible to change the way the world moves?” Hosts Butler and Erica Klampfl, future mobility manager, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, were joined on the panel by Meg Divitto, vice president, IBM Analytics, and John Gleasure, chief commercial officer, Perform Group.

Info Cycle Experiment

Showcased for the first time in Europe at the Mobile World Congress, the Info Cycle experiment called Handle on Mobility, is an innovative open-source research initiative to gather information about how bikes are used in different urban areas. The project has been designed to enhance understanding of the biking ecosystem and to improve safety for cyclists, as well as exploring improved mapping, smart journey planning and community-based services. A sensor box on the frame gathers data such as wheel speed, acceleration, weather and altitude.

These innovative experiments will help test transportation ideas for better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers.

“Changing the way we think, collaborate and behave is essential to ensuring freedom of movement of both people and economies,” said Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer, Ford of Europe. “The Ford Smart Mobility plan supports our commitment to innovation and is aimed specifically at developing smarter transportation systems that take the worry and anxiety out of journey planning and improve the quality of life in busy cities.”

Electric Bike Experiment

The Handle on Mobility experiment extends the range of transport solutions for a connected journey that is more efficient, safer, healthier, and enables journeys to be completed with less anxiety and stress.

As a starting point for the experiment, Ford challenged employees around the world to submit designs for e-bikes. The prototype MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro e-bikes presented at Mobile World Congress are among the top designs from more than 100 submitted.

Both e-bikes are equipped with a 200-watt motor with 9-amp-hour battery that provides electric pedal assist for speeds of up to 25 km/h. The prototype e-bikes offer technology inspired by the automotive industry including, for example, a rear-facing ultrasonic sensor. This enables a rider alert system that both warns the cyclist when a vehicle is overtaking, by vibrating both handlebars, and alerts motorists of the presence of the e-bike by illuminating handlebar lights.

The bikes, which fold easily into Ford vehicles, meet the needs of different users:

  • The MoDe:Me e-bike – built with the help of bicycle manufacturer Dahon – is intended for urban commuters to keep moving in congested city traffic. It folds and stows easily, allowing commuters to park on the city outskirts, take the e-bike onto public transport and travel to the centre, then ride the e-bike to their destination
  • The MoDe:Pro e-bike – built by a Ford team – is intended for urban commercial use such as by couriers, electricians, and goods and delivery services. It is designed to stow safely into commercial vehicles such as Transit Connect, which can act as carrier and support vehicle, and be combined with more than one e-bike

The prototype MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro e-bikes work with a prototype app called MoDe:Link compatible with the iPhone 6. Real-time information from the app enables the e-bikes to deliver:

  • The prototype MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro e-bikes work with a prototype app called MoDe:Link compatible with the iPhone 6. Real-time information from the app enables the e-bikes to deliver:
  • Multimodal navigation and smart routing: Integrates journey planning with personal vehicle and public transportation networks, which can be filtered by cost, time, and amount of biking. Map includes weather, parking costs, and charging stations
  • Speed and comfort: Electric pedal assist rate can be adjusted based on heart rate, “No Sweat” mode reduces the requirement to pedal, allowing riders to arrive fresh at their destination
  • SYNC compatibility: While the e-bike is stowed and charging inside the vehicle, Ford’s SYNC voice-activated connectivity system shows the app on the vehicle’s display

After users input a destination, the MoDe:Link app lists possible journeys and then provides step-by-step or turn-by-turn navigation. This might include driving to a train station, taking an e-bike onto the train, and then riding the bike from the train stop to the final destination. The app also updates the route as circumstances change. For example, if a train service is cancelled, the app could recommend that a commuter drive instead.

“There are so many ways to get around a city, but what is really needed is a way to connect all of these transport options together,” said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Being able to seamlessly move between cars, buses, trains and e-bikes and react to changing traffic situations can make a big difference both for commuters and for those delivering goods, services and healthcare.”

The Handle on Mobility experiment marks the latest mobility project the company has announced worldwide this year as part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

Global mobility projects

Ford first announced Ford Smart Mobility and an initial 25 experiments designed to anticipate what customers will want and need in tomorrow’s transportation ecosystem at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. There are now experiments in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and South America.

These experiments include:

Further global experiments include the Innovate Mobility Challenge Series. Ford invited innovators and developers around the world to create solutions for specific mobility challenges in England, Portugal, North America and South America, Africa, India and China, with the series continuing in Australia this year. Challenges have included finding technology solutions to identify open parking spaces in urban areas, better ways to navigate crowded cities and the use of navigation and other tools to help people gain access to medical care in remote areas.

Last month at the International CAR Symposium in Bochum, Germany, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields also announced Ford’s participation in the following initiatives:

  • The Personal Mobility Innovation Experience: This recently launched project aims to identify the features, technologies, services and solutions that could enable Ford to meet changing preferences and expectations for personal mobility, and help address societal challenges such as traffic congestion and environmental issues. The research partnership between the Ford European Research & Innovation Centre, in Aachen, Germany, and the Technology and Innovation Management Institute of RWTH Aachen University will look at examples such as Apple and Amazon – which have expanded from being single product and service providers to delivering a full ecosystem of hardware and software platforms and services. The project will identify how such approaches could deliver enhanced car-ownership experiences, new approaches to car-sharing and personalisation of mobility solutions, and create innovative features and new business opportunities
  • UK Autodrive: Ford also is contributing to an initiative that is researching how driverless and connected cars can be integrated into everyday life. The company will provide two prototype cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability to help test an innovative public transport system.

“At Ford, we’re innovating in every part of our business and we’re open to smarter ways of keeping the world moving freely,” Samardzich said. “Our commitment to mobility extends far beyond vehicles and includes investing in a range of mobility projects and experiments. Such ongoing research projects help us to find out what works and to develop smarter, more connected mobility solutions.”

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 189,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit