Ford uses big data to 'stay green'

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Ford says it "considers analytics and big data--in and out of vehicles--the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity." Its latest innovations to come from big data use are eco-conscious designs and user abilities to further "green" their car ownership.

Ford outlined what its group of scientists, mathematicians, computer modelers and other researchers has accomplished via their work with big data in a statement to the press:

1) Fuel economy: Developed a science-based model that projects CO2 emissions generated by the fleet of vehicles on roads worldwide for the next 50 years, helping Ford set aggressive fuel economy targets yet remain eco-conscious.

2) Power of choice: Used science and math to show that one particular form of alternative engine power is unlikely to emerge above all others, helping to make the case for a diversified portfolio of powertrains ranging from EcoBoost engines, hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies, flex-fuel, all-electric, biodiesel, CNG and LPG.

3) New features: Created sophisticated mathematical models that optimize millions of possible vehicle combinations to give decision makers the tools to construct an eco-conscious and cost-effective global technology roadmap, resulting in green products such as Ford Auto Start-Stop.

4) Customer value: Developed specific tools such as the Ford Fleet Purchase Planner, an analytical system that helps fleet customers match their vehicle choices to their needs while helping save money and the planet.

But that's not the end of their big data fueled greening efforts. Currently the automaker is exploring these areas too:

- Green routing, which optimizes driving routes to reduce a vehicle's impact on local air quality in specific locations, such as near hospitals, schools and in high density residential areas.
- Statistical analysis of vehicle usage data to provide insight into consumer acceptance of electric vehicles and the electrification of personal transportation.
- Optimal use of current and future biofuels.
- Demand and availability of strategic materials used in powertrains, including rare earth elements, lithium and platinum group metals.
- Life-cycle analysis tools aimed at measuring energy and water use--along with greenhouse gas emissions--associated with alternative fuels and materials.
- Further expanding the number of environmentally friendly components in Ford vehicles.

"There are so many amazing possibilities to consider for the future impact of data," said John Viera, global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters. "The possibilities are not only exciting, they are, in fact, almost endless."

Indeed they are nearly endless. Vehicle form factors are likely to change radically, too, as automakers learn from big data which designs will be more efficient by numerous measures and more appealing to users too. Changes in the industry will come quicker than in years past as everything from vehicle design and use to manufacturing and the supply chain react in unison to fast, incoming information.

Automotive telematics will become one of the primary sources for environmental and mapping data as well as other important social data that in turn will reshape how our cities are built and will function.

After all, transportation vehicles of all kinds are the ultimate in mobile technologies.

For more:
- read the Ford press release

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