Tech and algorithms push transportation innovation

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2016


Whether it’s through ride-sharing or computer assistance, the future of innovative transportation was revealed a bit more at last month’s North American International Auto Show.

At the Ford exhibit, Patrick Ellis, who handles Ford’s connected vehicle research, explained a little about a ride-sharing shuttle service that his company is currently testing out in beta.

The concept, branded as Go Ride Intelligent Shuttle, is being developed as a mobility option for people in urban environments who otherwise might not have access to a car. 

 “In this case, the dynamic shuttle fills the spot between scheduled bus service and on-demand things like taxis,” Ellis said.

The shuttle system operates when users go to fixed stop-point locations and summon a shuttle with a mobile device app. The shuttle receives this information and, through an algorithm, may dynamically assign the driver a route that gets its customers to their destinations.

So far, the system is being tried out at Ford’s Dearborn campus, where four shuttles have been ferrying around Ford workers to 120-plus stops, Ellis explained.

“These are able to take our employees from location to location across campus,” he said. “All the while, we are gathering lots of data to further tune and optimize the experience and algorithms powering this.”

Ellis did not provide a set timeline for when dynamic shuttles could be used by the American public. He said Ford is still figuring out the best way to bring the technology to market, and the final product could vary in a number of ways.

Meanwhile, at the automotive supplier Denso’s exhibit, Denso International America senior vice president of sales and marketing Bill Foy discussed his company’s V2X technology initiative. V2X forms an elaborate system that uses GPS technology to let cars communicate with other vehicles and environmental infrastructure. The technology provides alerts and safety assistance for drivers by helping them avoid hazards. 

Foy said Denso also is involved with a consortium of companies — including Subaru, Honda and Panasonic — that is exploring driver behavior and autonomous driving. He said the consortium is discussing algorithms that could let drivers transition from manual operation to Level 4, or purely autonomous, driving.

Foy said more and more vehicles are equipped with the sensory tools that could someday make autonomous driving a reality, such as cameras, radar and light-detecting LIDAR systems. Other features such as cruise control and pre-crash collision avoidance systems will continue to be fleshed out, he said.

 “These things can allow you to keep drivers safe,” he said. “The next three to five years, I think you’re going to have most manufacturers have (safety technologies) as an option, if not standard.”

But Foy said it’s important for states and communities to allow testing of autonomous vehicles in order to collect the data needed to improve the system.

Learn more about Ford Motor Co. by visiting Learn more about Denso by visiting For the North American International Auto Show, visit