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 Yawgm0th on 5/18/2010 11:47:19 AM , Rating: 2
But profits aren't American. I'd rather American workers be college grads working in highly skilled or intellectual jobs. Their economic output will be higher and the economy will be better.

It's basic economics. Americans are better suited toward more intellectual work. Mexicans (as in the denizens of Mexico, not people of Mexican or Hispanic descent) have a comparative advantage towards manufacturing because they aren't able to do the same jobs that Americans can.

Basically, you're a proponent of mercantilism. The global economy and our economy are better if we do what we're good at and other countries do what they're good at. Even my very liberal economics teacher in college would agree that we're better off with globalization, and have Mexico do the low-skill manufacturing jobs is a big part of globalization. Just be happy it's Mexico instead of China.

Our decline as a manufacturing nation is only a problem in that not enough of the populace is educated enough for us to be the leader in science and engineering that we should be. We need to design and invent everything, not build it.

Ultimately, it's a car. Pick the car that makes sense for you. Trying to make a political statement when buying a car ignores the complexities of the chain of supply of the car market. A car made in America might use foreign engineering or parts. A car made in Mexico might use American engineering and foreign parts. There is so much crossover in the industry that you simply can't find a good all-American car, if there's such a thing. I'd rather have the best car I can have then trying to make a childish, ignorant political statement with my purchase.

RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By sviola on 5/18/10, Rating: 0
By ekv on 5/18/2010 1:49:08 PM , Rating: 4
learned faster and do a better job than an american
Now who's the xenophobe?

It looked like the other person was expressing his concern over the loss of jobs. We are searching for answers to American competitiveness. The answer is not to bow and scrape before the alter of racism, which would ignore issues like: union wages, excessive gov't regulation, taxes, health care savings accounts, etc.

Did you even mention the cost differential tween a Brazilian and American employee? No?

RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By Yawgm0th on 5/18/2010 1:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
I've worked for a big american corporation and they were sending all their jobs to Brazil bacause, besides the costs being lower, the workers were more versatile, learned faster and do a better job than an american in the same position did
This is a pile of anecdotal BS that completely misunderstands my point.

Indeed, certain jobs will be performed just as well by the better-or-equally-educated citizens of other countries, regardless of whether they speak Spanish, Portugese, or, say, Mandarin. My point was not that Mexicans in particular are stupid or poorly educated or that Latin America doesn't have highly-skilled and highly-educated workers. My point was that we have more of them, statistically, by a huge margin, and we should. America is still the world's center of higher education. Latin American countries -- pretty much all of them -- have poorer and worse-educated people, on average, than the United States and Canada. I don't say that out of racism or xenophobia; it's a statistical fact. Jobs get shipped out of this country because people in other countries are willing to do them for less because they don't have the same standard of living.

What I'm saying is that instead of worrying about our manufacturing jobs going to, say, Mexico, where labor is cheaper for all the reasons I described and more, we should be more concerned about getting ourselves to the point at which we can all do something productive. In a perfect world, no one would work on an assembly line. Robots would do the entire process and humans would be employed to design, build, and maintain those robots. In the meantime, if someone's going to do it, why should we expect it to someone with a college or even high school degree when there are people with neither in need of jobs?

This isn't about xenophobia or stereotyping the third world. It's about opportunity cost, comparative advantage, and global economics. Fighting the most efficient allocation of resource by buying American cars and overpaying American workers doesn't help anyone in the long run.

RE: American Journey...Starting in Mexico!!!
By hr824 on 5/18/2010 4:45:47 PM , Rating: 4
As china and India graduate engineers and designers by an accelerating amount "overpaid American workers" will include most of the American work force. If you youngsters think a collage education will guarantee you a good standard of living for the rest of your life, think again. You will be outsourced and kicked to the curb just like all the rest.

By Yawgm0th on 5/20/2010 9:51:42 AM , Rating: 2
If the Chinese and Indian work forces get to a good enough level, then the entire global economy and standard of living will improve, ultimately. More output means more output, period. They will have more money and start consuming. Even if we do head back towards a manufacturing workforce, it will be good overall.

By nafhan on 5/18/2010 3:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're getting hung up on the word Mexican. He was using it to refer to the residents of the country of Mexico NOT a racial group.
Average wages are lower in Mexico. Therefore doing labor intensive jobs there will cost less. That's just simple economics.

By sebmel on 5/19/2010 11:24:11 AM , Rating: 2
I happen to live in Brazil and run a business. Labour costs are still lower than the US but Brazil is fast becoming extremely expensive. Most goods are double the US price or more. The bureaucracy is out of control and growing.

As for Brazilian workers being more versatile than Americans, that simply isn't the case. Brazilian businesses have historically had absurd staffing levels... go to a few restaurants and you'll see often 10 waiters hanging around. Brazilians have grown accustomed to each worker having very specific work to do and resent being asked to to anything that falls outside their job description as they see it in relation to similar Brazilian run companies.

Brazilian workers are also emboldened by appalling workers rights law which causes any worker immediately to sue any company the moment they leave a job... and I'm not referring to sackings... the moment they retire they sue. All they need is a colleague to claim they did some overtime... a single accomplice... and they are awarded thousands of reais.

In one case a cleaner, who couldn't clean, sued my company even though she had no rights because she only worked 2 days a week and these workers rights kick in after three days a week. She won $5000. Why? Apart from lying about wages owed she won because she claimed, with help from an ex-employee who was thrown out for theft that she cleaned his house and since he was a company employee that was effectively another day working for us!

If you think Brazil is a competitive business environment you have to ask yourself why annual GDP per capita in the US is around $40,000 and in Brazil it is $8000. In the Global Competitivity Index I believe Brazil is around 55th. It also has a non-functioning legal system and appalling corruption. The situation is so bad here that something as basic as the legal force of any contract is in doubt... judges argue that they are the custodians of the 'spirit of the law' and that language is too ambiguous to mean anything.

Add to this that there isn't a single Brazilian university in the world top 200 and only four in the top 500... and the public high school system is far far worse than the worst you have in the US. I have lived in the US.. Canada and Europe too... and in Brazil for 7 years.

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