AJ will also be able to indicate via GPS trace the roads on which it's driving when it feels certain ways, and the system will also allow it to take a photo to show other drivers - and perhaps, someday, other cars - the conditions that trigger its opinions.
* Local Search uses a built-in social media component via the social networking app Foursquare. Each time the vehicle makes a stop, it will check in with Foursquare to identify the location, and it can also search for nearby restaurants, gas stations and parks.
Technology meets tradition
The Ford connected road trip is an outreach to two key demographics who will help shape the future of Ford vehicles: Fiesta buyers, largely expected to be connected young Millennials like the U-M students and the crowds expected to greet them during their university stops; and budding app developers interested in the future of software development and mobile platforms. At the same time, the journey hopes to harness the power of social networks and cloud computing to introduce a new twist to the great American road trip.
"The challenges faced by the students are representative of what the new era of developers will face as they begin programming the Internet-on-wheels, and what a new generation of customers will want from this technology," said Prasad. "We are creating tools for this new generation and we are learning as much as we can, while adapting to seeing things through the eyes of up-and-coming programmers."
A project like American Journey 2.0, involving teamwork with university students followed by hands-on testing, represents a significant developmental shift for Ford. The company is actively looking toward innovation hubs like universities and Silicon Valley to learn the best ways to deliver relevant and personalized content tailored for the individual driver's unique in-car experience.
"These collaborations are also valuable to Ford and our development ecosystem in the long term," added Prasad. "If we're going to lead in shaping tomorrow's world-on-wheels, we need a top talent pool from which to draw, and we need to be a catalyst to the entire value chain."
At the road trip's final destination, Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., May 22, the U-M students and Ford engineers will have the chance to share their work with global leaders in technology development.
"Maker Faire is where technology enthusiasts gather to see new projects and I know they'll be excited to think about the car as a technology platform and the new applications that can be built" said Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of MAKE Magazine and Founder of Maker Faire.
"This event is demonstrating that we at Ford do not view cars and trucks as just vehicles but as platforms for development," Giuli said. "Whether someone at Maker Faire is a car enthusiast or a techie or a programmer, we're inviting them to come interact with the vehicle and help us shape the future."
Follow the Journey
On Twitter: www.twitter.com/AJtheFiesta (#aj2)
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/AJtheFiesta
Ford Team Blog: www.AJtheFiesta.com
U-M Team Blog: www.AmericanJourney2.com