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article imageFord invests in start-up to create open-source mobility platform

By James Walker     Oct 13, 2017 in Technology
Ford has invested in Silicon Valley start-up firm Autonomic Inc. The company's software provides services useful to autonomous ride-hailing businesses, including networked data streams between vehicles and operators. Ford will build open-source services.
Ford announced its investment in Autonomic during its investors report last week. The company plans to use Autonomic's platform as the basis for its own mobility services. These may include autonomous vehicles, ride-hailing apps and other digital platforms.
Autonomic offers a foundation for Ford to build its own products on. Reuters reports the software comes with data analytics, customer identification and digital payments capabilities, offering a skeleton structure for online automotive services. Ford will develop applications on top of Autonomic, combining the platform with data from its vehicles to create a complete mobility infrastructure that can be sold to customers.
Ford's ambitions extend beyond its own company. It intends to open-source its mobility platform, enabling other providers to integrate with it. This increases its chances of success by making it available across the globe, including to rival automotive brands. Open-source platforms are important in the cloud era because they allow customers to get more out of their data by combining multiple services.
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"The platform would allow us to build services, as well as others, because the platform would be open to cities and other services," Ford Smart Mobility communications manager said to The Verge. "The layer that Autonomic provides is non-differentiated services."
Ford's investing heavily in emerging technologies as it digitally transforms its business. The company has partnered with brands including Domino's and Lyft, using self-driving vehicles for food deliveries and taxis. Ford's also using technology to improve its internal efficiency, such as its work with Microsoft to bring mixed reality into the car design process.
Automotive brands like Ford are increasingly becoming tech firms too, utilising data to improve the customer experience and offer greater mobility. An open cloud platform will help to consolidate these efforts, making it possible for Ford to offer the digital services that could become the future of its business.
Self-driving cars will force automotive brands to take on a new role, based around their own delivery and ride-hailing services. Ford's partnership with Autonomic is a step towards making achieving this reality, where vehicles are used primarily to sell mobility-as-a-service products.
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