US cars, and their use of technology has been underwhelming for over a decade. The head units that exist in today’s dashboards are pathetic compared to what they could be, and our technology is also insecure in some ways. Cars are a traveling suite of sensors, yet we have little knowledge or access to those.
So let’s out line some of the basic things that could improve:
- You should be able to transfer your music, movies, and playlists to your car via your home's wifi.
- You should be able to pull up a map or route on your home pc, phone, or pad and transfer it to your car effortlessly.
- Your car should recognize your family's voices for security.
- Your car should know your garage door opener, and know when to open and close it from context.
- Your car should be at least as smart as Siri, Alexa, or hey Google when responding to voice.
- Software for the command and control of the vehicle and not the peripherals like the media center, should be in a hardened silicon Virtual machine.
So this list could go on a long time, but you get the drift. Our cars are both at once the height and the pits of our technology.
“Cars!” says Dragos Maciuca, when asked why he left his job as an Apple engineer—Apple!—to lead Ford’s R&D operation in Silicon Valley.
It makes sense. Maciuca, who will head up the automaker’s Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Center that opened Thursday, always has been a car guy. So this is in a way the perfect gig for him. Things like connectivity, infotainment, and autonomous features are as important to Ford as performance, styling, and safety, says Raj Nair, CTO and VP for global product development. “We’re increasingly seeing the car being the biggest consumer electronics device you can have.” And consumers used to smartphones expect their cars to fill the same needs.
To deliver, Ford plans to build a team of about 125 software and user experience engineers, plus business development, IT, and marketing folks, by the end of the year. That will give Ford one of the biggest automotive centers in Silicon Valley. Some employees will be transferred from HQ in Dearborn, but most will be new hires, lured to the 111-year-old company with “very competitive” compensation, says CEO Mark Fields.