There is more to integrated guidance systems in cars than simply providing directions to a specific place, not the least of which is real-time updating of traffic conditions and route planning based on this information.
In a global multi-year deal Ford has partnered with TomTom, which will provide Ford’s next-generation SYNCwith its real-time traffic service. The all-new 2021 Ford F-150 pickup and the soon to be delivered all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV are the first Ford vehicles available with the technology.
“The all-new F-150 is Ford’s flagship and the Mustang Mach-E is one of the industry’s most exciting vehicles this year – both are leading the next automotive revolution of connected vehicles,” says Stuart Taylor, executive director, Enterprise Connectivity. “Their next-generation SYNC technologies have twice the computing power of the previous-generation system to do much more, including real-time, smartphone-like mapping that can help you adjust on the fly to quicker routes based on their network of millions of connected devices.”
TomTom Traffic provides accurate, real-time traffic information, which will keep Ford drivers informed and can help them reduce their travel time. The advanced service can even predict traffic changes such as congestion before they happen by processing more than 70-million driving hours every day from millions of connected devices and leveraging SYNC’s increased computing power to update navigation systems every 30 seconds.
“Automakers choose TomTom Traffic for its accuracy, freshness and reliability,” says Antoine Saucier, Managing Director, TomTom Automotive. “Ford’s decision to include TomTom Traffic in its next-gen SYNC connected vehicle technology is another step towards our vision of a world free of congestion.”
Ford’s navigation system and TomTom Traffic are fully connected to and informed by the internet with maps the latest available traffic and construction information, ensuring customers are getting the most up-to-date info for their routes. Ford also equipped SYNC 4 with optional navigation with the ability to share parking space availability and prices.
By taking advantage of state-of-the-art, cloud-based voice processing, SYNC 4 can understand conversational requests, such as “Find me the best Thai restaurant” and offer data-based suggestions to drivers. Staying in contact with friends and family also becomes easier, with natural speech recognition enabling communication via SMS and email.
Making its debut in the Mustang Mach-E is the SYNC 4A connected vehicle technology, a sleek and modern interface that uses machine learning to quickly learn drivers’ preferences will keep Mach-E SUVs at the forefront of technology better over time, thanks to advanced over-the-air updates. A 15.5-inch screen and adaptive dash card interface ditches complicated menus, making it easier to access features with touch, swipe and pinch controls like smartphones.
“SYNC 4A, which is optimised for electric vehicle customers, actively adapts to you as soon as you start using it, quickly learning preferences and makes personalised suggestions,” says Darren Palmer, Ford global director for BEVs. “TomTom’s real-time traffic data, combined with other innovations such as Ford Intelligent Range technology, will help Mustang Mach-E customers get the most out of every charge.”
However, closer to home, Ford’s Driving Skills For Life (DSFL) programme refuses to stop reminding the youth of the importance of driver safety.
This is particularly important since the use of cellular phone apps for navigation is growing massively – but, unless the vehicle is equipped with screen mirroring technology, means (often) distracted driving.
Flanked by new products like the Figo Freestyle and EcoSport Ambiente Auto, DSFL is able to communicate correct practices for technology and safety at the wheel, using Ford’s modern features to illuminate new topics for road safety.
Launched in South Africa in 2010, DSFL is Ford’s free driver training programme, developed to raise the standard of safety among South African drivers while rewarding them with skills the standard driving test does not take into consideration.
According to a report conducted by the AA in the UK, one is twice more likely to be involved in a collision when using a smartphone – while young drivers in particular are especially vulnerable as a result of these digital distractions.
The danger, according to Ford’s DSFL training director Derek Kirkby, is not holding the cell phone but more about concentration.
“Even when you are speaking to someone through the vehicle Bluetooth kit your concentration is taken away. Many a time, drivers have been on the phone and can’t recall their last few kilometres of the trip.”
Connectivity systems such as Ford’s intelligent SYNC 3 system mitigate a lot of distractions thanks to hands-free speech-recognition as well as steering-mounted controls for handling calls – but knowing how and when to use them is part of DSFL’s objective.
Kirkby continues, “If you do use a smartphone as a GPS, get used to listening to the voice prompt and not looking at the phone’s screen as this becomes a distraction. If you receive a call via the vehicle’s Bluetooth feature, answer the call using the steering wheel controls.”
“While being distracted by technology is one thing, younger drivers are also often distracted by passengers, particularly if those passengers are their friends. Young drivers should be taught to focus on the road at all times and to pay attention to other road users. Unfortunately, distracted driving at any age can lead to severe consequences which cannot be reversed,” says Layton Beard from the Automobile Association of South Africa.