IBM, Ford Drive Analytics for Traffic Platform Pilot

Ford and IBM have teamed up to deliver a new cloud-based analytics platform that finds more efficient ways to move in traffic.

connected car

IBM and Ford announced they are partnering on a pilot platform that enables research scientists to analyze small bits of data – 10 or 15 seconds at a time – to spot patterns, correlations and trends, and to write code to make more efficient transportation decisions.

The platform, known as the Ford Smart Mobility Experimentation Platform, underpins Ford’s Dynamic Shuttle pilot program, which is now in operation on the company’s Dearborn, Mich., campus.

The pilot platform can spot patterns, correlations and trends to help consumers make more efficient transportation decisions – such as finding an open spot in a jam-packed parking lot or quickly advising of a more efficient method of transportation if a commuter is caught in an unexpected traffic jam.

The platform uses IBM streaming analytics delivered via IBM’s Cloud to allow for continuous updating. This acts as the brains behind the parking and shuttle services Ford is developing.

“Ford’s Smart Mobility Experimentation Platform takes huge amounts of information and breaks it down to help consumers have better travel experiences,” said Rich Strader, Ford’s director of enterprise and emerging information technology, in a statement.

As part of Ford’s Dynamic Shuttle service pilot now in operation for employees, should one of the transit vans involved in the project experience a malfunction that triggers a warning light, the platform will be able to start routing requests away from that vehicle to other transits in service. This allows another shuttle to redeploy to keep all riders on schedule, IBM said.

Using real-time analytics to coach people on efficient ways to use multi-modal travel options, the platform will enable Ford to take data feeds from various systems to learn, for example, of a problem on the subway. A commuter traveling in the network can then be advised to ride their bicycle or find another means to reach a destination on time.

Moreover, as part of the company’s GoPark Painless Parking experiment, Ford is looking to deploy parking space prediction technology. With explicit permission from participants, Ford will collect data from cars coming and going from parking spaces in a defined area to predict available spots. The predictions are based on available city data plus observed parking patterns such as time of day and location, the company said. The mobile application provided will include a parking enforcement feature that will benefit the city by supporting its parking enforcement activities – serving as a key element of new smart city initiatives.

By uncovering patterns, the platform will be able to guide a driver to an open parking space. For instance, a consumer leaving a store gets to her car and starts the ignition – the first step of a pattern. A few seconds later, she backs out and drives away – step two. At this point, a broadcast message can then be conveyed to other drivers entering the lot presumably looking for a place to park. The message can not only tell the driver there is an available spot, but also its precise location.

Ford and IBM’s technology is similar to that used in industries such as the stock market, where masses of data are aggregated quickly to enable rapid transactions, IBM said. Energy providers use data to monitor grids, identify opportunities for predictive maintenance, and deploy crews automatically based on certain thresholds.

Reaching the next level in data and analytics is a pillar of the Ford Smart Mobility initiative, which the automaker announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016. The company announced its Ford Smart Mobility plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. Ford also announced 25 mobility experiments to test breakthrough transportation ideas to create better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers. The experiments are global and will take place this year.

“Even as we showcase connected cars and share our plans for autonomous vehicles, we are here at CES with a higher purpose,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, in a statement. “We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company – and, ultimately, to change the way the world moves just as our founder Henry Ford did 111 years ago.”