Just a handful of decades back, when furniture-sized boom boxes called radiograms were the most high-tech items in the house, the first television signals began making their way across South Africa.
Back then, SABC’s TV test pattern was among the coolest, most futuristic graphics a young kid had ever seen…
‘Catalytic peek’ into the future
But what came next was a catalytic peek into the future of now contemporary automotive technology and perhaps the very spark that set off the life-long love affair between many a South African and their cars.
It was Knight Rider – a TV programme featuring a talking, artificially intelligent and semi-autonomous car with sleek lines and jam-packed with high-tech gadgets.
It was a time when boyish imaginations in the neighbourhood and on the playground were abuzz with dreams of “telephones”, radios and TVs embedded in wrist watches and supercars that could park themselves.
KITT: The first car to find its own voice
Ford talks to the future
That first peek into the future – as it turns out – was a long, hard look into 2020 and straight into an era which is witnessing unprecedented integration of new technology, the automobile, and the satellite signals that make it all possible.
Arguably one of the most significant proofs of this is the introduction of a new service which processes a whopping 70 million driving hours a day, from millions of connected devices, all to provide a host of real- time navigation services, and now — to predict and and help motorists avoid traffic jams.
This emerged from Ford’s announcement on Friday 3 July 2020 that the American auto giant had awarded a multi-year, real-time traffic service contract to global satellite navigation service providers TomTom.
Described by Ford as the next-generation SYNC connected vehicle technology, the service will first be available for all-new F-150 (pickup trucks) and the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV “to help get more out of each trip to the job site or battery charge”.
Processing more than 70 million driving hours
“Ford’s navigation system1 with TomTom Traffic is fully connected to and informed by the internet with maps that are frequently refreshed with the latest available traffic and construction information, ensuring customers get the most up-to-date info for their routes.”
“The advanced service can predict traffic jams before they happen by processing more than 70 million driving hours every day from millions of connected devices and leveraging SYNC’s increased computing power to update navigation systems every 30 seconds,” revealed Ford from its Dearborn headquarters in Michigan state.
Drawing a comparison to the planning of trips around weather predictions, Ford said drivers with access to the new system would be able to adjust trips based on traffic forecasts.
F-150 pickup and Mustang Mach-E
The company said the TomTom announcement followed hot on the heels of the first reveal of the all-new 2021 F-150 pickup and ahead of the imminent arrival of the Mustang Mach-E SUV.
The models represent the first Ford vehicles which will now be available with the technology.
“The all-new F-150 is Ford’s flagship and the Mustang Mach-E is one of the industry’s most exciting vehicles this year – both are leading the next automotive revolution of connected vehicles,” said Enterprise Connectivity executive director Stuart Taylor.
“Their next-generation SYNC technologies have twice the computing power of the previous-generation system to do much more, including real-time, smartphone-like mapping that can help you adjust on the fly to quicker routes based on their network of millions of connected devices.”
TomTom Traffic at the wheel
The advanced service can even predict traffic changes such as congestion before they happen.
“Automakers choose TomTom Traffic for its accuracy, freshness and reliability,” said TomTom Automotive managing director Antoine Saucier.
“Ford’s decision to include TomTom Traffic in its next-gen SYNC connected vehicle technology is another step towards our vision of a world free of congestion.”