Ford unveils Evos concept; intelligent hybrid car built for the cloud

Ford unveils the Evos concept car, a plug-in hybrid vehicle designed with cloud-based intelligence that can automatically adapt performance to individual drivers and road conditions.

Here's something I never thought I'd write: take a gander at the first car designed expressly for the cloud.

American automaker Ford on Tuesday unveiled its Evos concept car, a plug-in hybrid vehicle that it says represents the design direction of its entire global fleet. (And a new direction it is: it's a fastback-style model with gullwing doors and a trapezoidal grille.)

The vehicle intends to be a showcase for intuitive in-car tech, from the Microsoft-based Sync and MyFordTouch telematics systems to its hybrid electric powertrain, that will appear in future Ford vehicles.

Simply, it's the next step in a smarter car: situational adaptation.

[ Photo Gallery: Ford's Evos concept car: sharp from every angle ]

[ Photo Gallery: Designing the Ford Evos concept car ]

Which includes features such as:

  1. Seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the driver's "personal cloud‟ of information, from home to office to car.
  2. That information includes the driver's work schedule, local traffic or weather conditions and other pertinent information to a trip.
  3. The car can therefore detect and "know" the driver and automatically adapt handling, steering, suspension and powertrain systems to the person's habits or to the immediate road ahead.
  4. It can monitor the physical state and workload of the driver and adjust the driving experience accordingly.
  5. It can automatically play the same music or news program that was just streaming at home.
  6. It can heat or cool the interior to an ideal temperature before the driver gets in, using a predicted departure time, rather than an explicit request.
  7. Wireless communication abilities allow the car to close the garage door and switch off the lights automatically as it pulls away.
  8. The car's cloud-based abilities can offer driving recommendations via social media networks and even reset your alarm clock if a morning meeting is cancelled.
  9. A heart-rate monitoring seat, allergy-free interiors, location-aware air quality sensors, filtration systems and a situationally-aware instrument panel (displays only necessary gauge information) round out the brainpower.
  10. Underneath the hood, a lithium-ion plug-in hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Ford C-Max Energi makes it happen. (Why hybrid and not all-electric? So it can achieve a range of 500 miles.)

It's all about the transition, ensuring that the car isn't a technological black hole -- nor a new platform to master. It's also all about stepping toward autonomy -- letting the vehicle judge what's best for it, rather than the default factory settings.

Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation, likened the vehicle to a "personal assistant." (The PDA, reincarnated as a 3,000-lb. machine?)

"We see technology as more than just an impressive list of microprocessors, sensors and software," Mascarenas said in a statement. "It's about the application of that technology to create an experience that enhances the driver's time behind the wheel.”

Or, succinctly: context.

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