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Google And Ford Team Up On Fuel Economy Optimization Software

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On: Mon, May 16, 2011 at 5:45PM | By: Chris Weiss

Google And Ford Team Up On Fuel Economy Optimization Software

One of the cited advantages of the self-driving cars being developed by Google is fuel economy. By governing vehicle functionality by intelligent, inflexible software rather than leaving it to the proclivities of imperfect man, Google believes that it can push optimal miles-per-gallon from every vehicle.

While the world waits for Google to perfect its autonomous car, Google has teamed with Ford for a sort of interim fuel-savings technology. The platform is called Google Prediction API and, if all goes according to plan, will be equipped to Fords of the future.

Google Prediction API basically takes the computer-driven aspect of the modern automobile to the next level. On-board computer systems are already capable of delivering all kinds of performance information and optimization; Google's software would just serve to focus and customize that capability. In one example, the car would ask you about your destination when you first sit down. It would then optimize driving settings for the destination in question.

The system would take various factors into account, including the mileage of the trip, time of day, and even driving habits of the owner. It would then optimize driving settings to deliver the most efficient ride possible.

Ford sees the technology as working best in plug-in hybrids. Based upon the aforementioned factors, Google Prediction API could automatically set the car to all-electric driving or conserve battery power to make it last for the entire ride.

While such an advanced computer system might sound like it would defeat the purpose, with the weight from extra computer hardware lowering fuel efficiency, the plan is to store data in the cloud, eliminating the need for on-board storage hardware. The car would pull the information, along with other relevant data, like traffic and weather, from the cloud and then apply it to each individual drive.

Ford has been researching this type of technology for about two years and teamed with Google late last year. The company expects that the final product could be ready within four to eight years, but they'd better hurry—once cars are driving themselves, there won't be much need to involve the driver at all.


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