US: Ford seeks an answer to one of the deepest commuting problems – parking image

Ford, the second largest US automaker, is on an innovation strike these days, with the headlines concerning the blue oval having to do with autonomous research, car-sharing and even bikes – all pointing out to a coming reinvention of the business model.

The company has general strategies concerning the future of the auto industry, but also goes down to point and shoot levels – for example its working around with technology coming from Silicon Valley to assist in the search to find an answer to one of the biggest commuting issues – how to get a parking space once you reach your destination. According to Michael Tinskey, Ford global director of electrification and infrastructure, who spoke during the annual “Further With Ford” conference, securing a parking space is becoming a growing challenge these days. The automaker held its yearly conference in the new research and development center in Palo Alto, California, just outside San Francisco and said it was looking for solutions, including assessing the utility of a system that could lend a hand to drivers as they hunt for a parking space in crowded cities – Los Angeles or San Francisco. There are even estimates that around 30 percent of auto pollution around LA is actually caused by motorists looking to park their cars.

One of the proposed solutions would be to gather data from the same sensors that deliver traffic information to services, such as Inrix, designed to track congestion as it develops in real time. They could also track open parking spots or parking lots that have free spaces and including the parking search in the navigation duties is rather inexpensive. One other idea is to use cyclists to help search for empty spots, part of a larger project to find ways to make bicycles even more useful in urban areas.