One of the more interesting sessions at the recent Cisco Live featured Ford CEO Jim Farley on stage talking about the future of electric and autonomous cars. Ford is one of the few automotive companies that has seriously considered what the emergence of autonomous cars means for the industry and has begun exploring a potential future where cars are provided as a service and not for purchase.
Given cars are an underutilized but expensive resource, Ford is likely on the right track and making its appearance at Cisco’s event potentially prophetic.
Let’s talk about autonomous electric cars and why Ford’s use of Cisco technology could be a game-changer:
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Industry sharing with V2X tech
One of the most interesting dynamics to watch as autonomous vehicles move to market was how the automotive industry flip-flopped on V2X technology.
Initially the very thought of vehicles from different makers being able to share information about traffic and road conditions was anything but popular. But over time, the industry came to realize that it was through this communications medium that the cars could be made safer and any related navigation far more efficient. This coming wave of autonomous cars will be more connected to cities, other cars, third-party services, and the companies that made them than ever before.
But with that level of connectivity, there is a huge potential for these autonomous machines to become compromised, and the auto industry isn’t exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to computing technology, let alone security. Yet the risk of getting either wrong when the car is operating without a driver is extremely high, and there could be dire consequences.
Using an enterprise-class networking vendor is certainly more expensive initially than doing it yourself, but it comes with a series of critical benefits that make the extra cost a bargain.
Cisco could better assure both the security and throughput of the networking elements Ford plans to put in the car. Rather than learn the hard way, which most automakers will likely do, Ford is learning from the market leader in enterprise networking that knows, institutionally, far more about securing wired and wireless networks than anyone in the automotive industry.
Cisco is well penetrated in both the operations side of companies like Ford and in most cities worldwide. This should allow far better V2X performance from the resulting future Ford vehicles to both other vehicles and the cities and countries in which they operate.
Using a networking and security expert in Ford’s autonomous electric cars should avoid the problems some of the competition has experienced. And Ford is less likely to overpromise and under-deliver on autonomous offerings.
Because this is Cisco’s area of expertise, it will be better able to assure both the quality and the speed of the resulting network, while also ensuring it remains secure.
Ford + Cisco
Ford is serious about its electric autonomous car efforts. Ford’s electric offerings with the Mustang Mach-e and Ford F-150 Lightning are impressive, but they will be quickly eclipsed by the next generation of increasingly autonomous cars networked by Cisco and due in the 2025-2026 timeframe.
Ford’s use of Cisco for the critical networking component of these coming vehicles was inspired and should result in far fewer related problems for their cars over competitive offerings. While we watch some of the competition and their drivers experience the pain of doing it yourself in a technology area where you have yet to prove competence, Ford should be able to showcase the far better path of using subject-matter experts like Cisco to solve the networking and security exposures that will surround this new class of increasingly autonomous vehicles.
In short, by using Cisco, Ford has better assured that its electric autonomous future will be a successful one.