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Ford Presents New Feature To Keep The Driver Entertained In A Self Driving Car

Many companies are striving towards autonomous driving, however the question remains what to introduce next. Ford Motor Company envisions its autonomous vehicles as mobile movie theaters, with screens and projectors that vanish into the ceiling as passengers take over the wheel, according to a patent issued last week.

The patent, for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System,” is less interesting for what it describes—a widely anticipated entertainment system for drivers who no longer need to focus on the road—than for what it anticipates: driverless cars that still need drivers.

Other technology leaders, like Google, anticipate driverless cars that do not need human intervention at all—since they drive so much better than humans do. The difference suggests Ford may be headed down what one mobility expert calls “a dead end.”

According to Ford’s patent, ”The entertainment system controller presents media content on a first display while the vehicle is operating in the autonomous mode and on a second display when the vehicle is operating in a non-autonomous mode.”

The patent depicts the first display as a projection screen in the front of the car, covering the windshield (pictured below). When the driver takes over, the screen and projector retract into the ceiling and the presentation shifts to a display integrated within “a dashboard, an instrument cluster, or a rearview mirror.”

The patent suggests in places that a driver may take control mid-trip. For example, the vehicle may be fitted with audible or visual alarms, it says, presumably to alert a potential driver that it’s time to pay attention and drive. But drawings supplied with the patent depict removable front seats—removed in autonomous mode to turn the car into a theater—which suggests passengers would have to decide in advance whether a trip would be driverless or driven.

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 Customize Your Own Miniature Ford 

Every little boy had a collection of toy cars and model automotives, and now Ford allows you to create your own. By customizing and changing the everyday truck model customers can now create their own perfect miniature Ford.

Available 3D-printed Ford models are 1/32nd (one thirty second) scale in plastic and models included in the launch: the new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Printed models and digital files for additional Ford vehicles will be available at a later date. The Ford 3D Store is powered by TurboSquid.com, which provides automotive digital imaging and 3D-printable files. I have to say that the F-150 Raptor pickup truck looks pretty tough as a plastic model. When you click on the model within the Ford site, you are immediately taken to the Turbosquid site, which offers more views of the model and pricing. The F-150 Raptor 2017 model starts at $149.

According to a news release the company sent me: “3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models,” said Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “At Ford, we’re using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans.” Since I visited the Ford 3D printing lab, in person, last year while on the 3DRV road trip, I can attest to the many ways that the company is using 3D printing and 3D materials science to advance car making. I wrote about their unique metal bending machine and some of their virtual reality work to help engineers move rapidly through product changes. You can read those posts here and here.

According to Juniper research, sales of desktop 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, from an estimated 44,000 sold annually in 2014. That’s a pretty big increase in new 3D printers soon to be on consumer desks, but one that pales in comparison to the number of people who might try out 3D printing via a service bureau, particularly if you make it easy to customize and click-to-print a model.

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Supercar to be Built in Ontario

The new 2017 Ford GT super car, will be built in Markham, Not., in partnership with the privately-held Toronto based company Multimatic. Joe Henrich, president of the Americas for Ford Motor Co,. and former president of Ford Canada, told the press Thursday a the Canadian International Auto Show. There was some speculation that Ford would build the supercar with an outside supplier.

The two-door supercar, developed secretly before being revealed at the Detroit auto show in January, will feature lightweight carbon-fibre design, rear-wheel drive, a two-seat cockpit, upward swinging doors, and “a mid-mounted, next-generation twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 producing more than 600 horsepower,” Henrich, in animated voice, told a gathering of media on press day at the Toronto show.

A privately held company headquartered in Toronto, Multimatic designs and develops lightweight composite automotive system at manufacturing and engineering facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The company engineered and built the Aston Martin CC100, contributed to GM’s Camaro Z/28, and has worked with Ford for about 30 years.

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Brands that Dominate North American Car and Truck of the Year Short List

It may not come as a surprise that the these four popular car brands – VW, Ford, GM and Toyota – are dominating the North American Car and Truck of the Year short list.

Volkswagen Group of America has four vehicles in the running for North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The 10 cars and 12 trucks on the 57-member jury’s short list also include three each from Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The list of nominees will be reduced to three cars and three trucks in December, with a winner from each category revealed in January at the Detroit auto show.

No vehicles from the BMW, Cadillac or Kia brands made the short list, despite having multiple eligible nameplates. The awards recognize the best vehicles that are “new or substantially changed” in the past year, according to the program’s website.

GM swept the 2014 awards with the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado. GM also won the 2013 car of the year award, for the Cadillac ATS, but it has no cars on this year’s short list.

Ford last won in 2011 when the Explorer received the truck of the year award. The redesign of Ford’s most important vehicle, the F-150 pickup, to use an aluminum body makes it a favorite to win truck of the year. The F-150 won each of the last three times it was redesigned — 2009, 2004 and 1996. But among its competitors this year are GM’s two new small pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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