Ford Expands Smart Mobility with Info Cycle in Rural Africa

Posted by at 10:07 am on December 10, 2015

Riders for HealthFord is expanding its use of sensor technology to motorcycles, helping researchers and programmers better understand how cars, bikes and other modes of transportation together can create new mobility solutions and make people’s lives better – including improving healthcare in rural West Africa.

“OpenXC started as a project to make a car send a tweet five years ago, but has since become a platform, or an ‘Internet of mobility’ that allows us to use data to better understand how people move around the world,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. “Now, the same open innovation mentality behind OpenXC has inspired our team to create a sensor kit for bicycles and motorcycles to learn how other transportation options might best serve people in urban, suburban and rural areas, including improving their health.”

Ford’s open-source hardware and software kit provides real-time access to vehicle data, such as sensors, GPS receiver and vehicle speed. Ford has been using OpenXC to support some of its Ford Smart Mobility experiments for more than a year.

The company is gathering and analyzing vehicle data collected by OpenXC as part of Ford Smart Mobility, its plan to take connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics to the next level.

The broad insights learned from vehicle data, including how people drive and use their cars, first inspired Ford researchers to create a sensor kit for bicycles to collect additional data. Now, the company is rolling out the new sensor kit to motorcycles helping Riders for Health.

The medical services group collects GPS data and mapping coordinates to reach people who need medical care – vaccines, medications and live-saving hospital care – in rural West Africa.

Ford helped Riders for Health improve its maintenance systems and vehicle fleet logistics, equipping Ford Ranger pickups with OpenXC technology. This allows Riders for Health to track stops, timing and routes for their work in The Gambia.

Longer-term lessons and applications from this project could be used to help ambulance and emergency services providers improve efficiency across the world, including in rural areas.

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