Print 39 comment(s) - last by Yawgm0th.. on May 20 at 9:51 AM

AJ the Fiesta is on a road trip across the U.S.

Ford and the University of Michigan teamed up to create all sorts of Windows 7 powered auto apps. The apps could eventually be ported to the smart phone an interface with SYNC.
Students and the University of Michigan showcases possibilities to come

Ford's upcoming gasoline North American 2011 Ford Fiesta is garnering a lot of attention.  The vehicle just was EPA certified at 40 mpg highway and 29 mpg city.  While that pales in comparison to the 65 miles per U.S. gallon that the European 1.6 Duratorq TDCi engine variant gets, it's still impressive gas mileage for a traditional gas engine. 

To help further plug the vehicle and demonstrate the future of the SYNC in-car infotainment platform Ford has partnered with engineering and design students at The University of Michigan to engage in a one-of-a-kind road trip.

DailyTech received a firsthand look at the project last week at a special presentation at Ford's Research and Development headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

The collaboration takes two 2011 Ford Fiesta vehicles from Michigan to California traveling through the heart of the U.S. on their way.  The Ford-themed vehicle is nicknamed AJ -- named after the name of the project "American Journey".

AJ features a futuristic version of SYNC powered by a Dell Studio series PC, Sprint wireless internet (2 antennas), and Windows 7.  AJ can handle things like Skype calls, Facebook, navigation needs, and more.  “He” even has "moods";  when braking and stuck in traffic AJ gets sad, but when zipping around windy corners, AJ becomes joyful.  AJ's emotions are shown via an emoticon.

The vehicles also feature the winning app design of 6 student-submitted apps, running in Windows 7.  The app was built using the Fiestaware APIs and Microsoft Robotics Studio, which expose vehicle information to app developers. 

The winning app was the "Caravan" app that allows multiple vehicles roadtripping together to communicate with each other.  The app communicates with a U of M server and shares information on the speed, fuel levels, and food/gas stop plans of vehicles in your caravan.  It also has a number of canned text messages like "Slow down, I just saw a cop!" that can be sent safely using the touch screen.

The apps were written in C#.  The idea, according to Microsoft and Ford would be eventually to port apps like this to the SYNC platform or sell them independently as SYNC-enabled smart phone apps on platforms like Google's Android.

Other student submitted app designs included two points of interest apps (one using FourSquare, another using web submissions); a crowd-sourcing app to detect accidents and slowdowns; a fuel-economy promoting app that shows your economy on a particular road versus drivers of comparable vehicles; and finally an app that allows you to record voice reviews of restaurants you stopped at.

These apps fulfill Ford's goal of getting people to return to tinkering with their cars.  Ford says that as cars have become more advanced, people in general have moved away from modifying and personalizing their vehicles.

Ford Infotronics Research & Advanced Engineering group and technical team leader Venkatesh Prasad stated in a presentation, "There are 1 billion registered cars, trucks, and buses in the world.  There are 254 million in the U.S... What we're trying to do is introduce this opportunity for us to come back as tinkerers."

AJ and his U of M decorated wing-man currently flexed their 4G muscle in Chicago, cruised through the American heartland, and are currently in Utah.  You can track the road trip on the websites or  They will finish their trip at the Maker Faïre show in California.

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RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By nafhan on 5/18/2010 11:14:24 AM , Rating: 5
Yes and all the parts for the Civic are also built in MD, right next to Honda headquarters...
These are huge multinational corporations. Assembly is the last part of a very long chain of events that go into making a complicated piece of machinery.

RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By Yawgm0th on 5/18/2010 11:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
Assembly is the last part of a very long chain of events that go into making a complicated piece of machinery.
You said in one sentence what I took a paragraph to explain. I approve.

By sebmel on 5/19/2010 10:54:15 AM , Rating: 1
Just a few days ago in an article titled: "Apple Won't Let Ford in App Circle of Trust Until 2011" joke journalist Jason Mick, criticised Apple for delaying synching with this car's computer system until they have an app authentication chip and software ready.

Today we get an article, from the rather more reliable BBC, entitled: "Hack attacks mounted on car control systems" in which researchers talk about being able to take over car controls, such as braking.

"As cars, and everything else in life up to and including even pacemakers or fridges, become steadily more connected and externally accessible, research such as this should be taken increasingly seriously by manufacturers" says one quote in the article. "This represents an opportunity to head off a problem before it starts, in the not-too-distant future it may represent a real risk to life."

But for joker Mick, Apple's responsible attitude is nothing other than another opportunity to misrepresent and troll for clicks.

According to a report at Gizmodo, Google has no app authentication/malware exclusion mechanism sorted out for the Android OS... which, naturally, the Mick applauds.

RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By omnicronx on 5/18/2010 1:10:47 PM , Rating: 3
Bingo, its already been shown that compared to US manufacturers, US built imports still use far less parts made bought/made the USA. There are far more jobs created from all the different parts manufacturers as a result of domestic makers than the overpaid workers at import assembly plants =P.

US built imports average around 50% parts bought in the US, while US domestic manufacturers average closer to 80%.

Add the fact that this number is most likely lower too, as many domestics have been really sneaky over the last few years in an attempt to get a better public image. Even of those 50% parts bought within the US, many are via subcontractors in which the parts are actually sourced from elsewhere. Now of course the same can be said of domestics, but it is far more prevalent with imports.

Don't believe the 'Made in USA' garbage, looking at the entire picture, Imports don't even come close to supporting as many jobs as domestics. I'm not saying don't buy an import, i'm saying don't use this as your reasoning as you have been mislead...

By omnicronx on 5/18/2010 1:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
as many domestics have

as many *imports* have

By theArchMichael on 5/19/2010 4:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
US built imports average around 50% parts bought in the US, while US domestic manufacturers average closer to 80%.

Yeah but the real question is what do you call an import nowadays???
I have a KIA, which is owned by Ford, and I bought it at a "Ford / Kia" dealership and I am pretty sure it said that 100% of the parts are from South Korea, but it was assembled here...

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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