LAS VEGAS – In an unusual pairing of trucks and technology, Ford announced at the 2016 CES it envisions a rapid-response Ford F-150 with a drone in back that will be deployed in emergency situations.
Ford is dangling a $100,000 prize for the developer who comes up with the best software allowing drones to communicate with Ford vehicles using the automaker’s AppLink and OpenXC interfaces.
Ford is linking with China-based DJI, a manufacturer of civilian drones, on the project.
“Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference with vehicles and drones working together for the common good,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president of research and advanced engineering, in a statement.
Ford envisions technology that would allow United Nations first responders to drive an F-150 into disaster zones and then quickly deploy drones to survey and map the hardest-hit areas.
“The software eventually could allow drone-to-vehicle applications in agriculture, forestry, construction, bridge inspection, search and rescue, and many other work environments in which vehicles are space-, height- or terrain-limited,” Ford said.
Ford also announced that it is tripling its fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid test vehicles. The automaker will add 20 test vehicles to its fleet, bringing the total to 30. The vehicles are being tested on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan.
Edmunds says: Ford’s vision of future mobility includes trucks, drones and self-driving cars.