Print 68 comment(s) - last by Spuke.. on Feb 28 at 5:03 PM

Bill Ford Jr.  (Source:
Ford said as the population increases, auto sales will increase, but congested highways will prevent us from traveling/commuting

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference today, Bill Ford Jr. addressed his concern regarding future auto congestion in urban areas, which he says could eventually threaten our freedom to commute.

Bill Ford Jr. is the great-grandson of Henry Ford, who founded Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. Before the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908, many people did not travel more than 25 miles from home. However, having an automobile made further travels possible -- it gave them freedom.

But Bill Ford Jr. said this freedom could be at risk due to increased population, which means increased auto sales and congested highways that could one day limit the number of automobiles that can be sold or used on the roads at a given time.

"What I'm really worried about is the role of the car in the long-term," said Ford. "If we do nothing, it will limit the number of vehicles we can sell. If we can solve this problem of urban mobility, I think there's a great business opportunity for us."

According to LMC Automotive, a consulting firm in Michigan, there are currently 1.2 billion vehicles on the roads globally.

While issues like the environmental impact of vehicles have already been addressed via efforts like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) proposal that intends to boost fleet wide fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, Ford is moving on to other issues that are not so close to being addressed. His issue of choice is what to do about future traffic jams once the population increases, and urges the mobile technology industry to take action in developing solutions.

Ford already has a few solutions in mind, and they're all communications-based answers. Some are currently being developed, and some are not. For instance, Ford sees cars having radar-based cruise control and blind-spot monitoring systems in five years that allow vehicles to communicate with one another. These systems are currently being developed, where vehicles can "talk" to each other, offering information like the speed of another vehicle nearby. This could potentially avoid fatal crashes. Toyota is just one automaker that discussed the introduction of smart road technology back in 2010. Others like Ford and General Motors have worked to offer better and smarter safety systems as well, but they're mostly crash-based instead of traffic congestion-based.

Ford envisions a future beyond 2025 where cars will drive themselves as close together as possible to use the maximum amount of space on a highway. Vehicles will also do the same in parking lots to make more room for others. In addition, he imagines automakers building smaller cars that can offer additional space for other drivers.

"Even if the technology is there, there's still going to have to be tremendous thought by urban planners," said Ford. "That [driving] freedom has been threatened unless we redefine what personal mobility can be in a congested urbanized world."

Source: The Detroit News

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Urban mobility...
By JediJeb on 2/27/2012 2:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
burgeoning global population.

I did the calculations a while back to counter some crazy post about population growth and found that even if we grow our population to something like 112 Billion people on Earth we could still fit them all on a land mass the size of Greenland.

The total surface area of the Earth is 1.603e+15 sqft which is 1.6 quadrillion sqft. Even at a population of 100 billion people that still leaves everyone with 16,000 sqft of living space. Greenland has an area of 23,315,542,272,000 sgft(1.47% of the Earth's landmass) which would leave 100 billion people 233sqft each. To put it in another perspective if you covered the entire area of Greenland with 3,300 sqft houses the entire worlds population could have one of those houses each and still have room left over.

In other words, we are not going to run out of room for our population any time soon. And if worse comes to worst and we do hit over 100 billion(which would take a few thousand years at current population growth) we could put all of them comfortably on Australia while using the rest of the globe for producing food. Plenty of room and cropland to support them all. Power and such might be a little more of a problem, but in a few thousand years hopefully we will have that worked out too.

RE: Urban mobility...
By Paj on 2/28/2012 8:01:01 AM , Rating: 2
One small problem - the whole world's terrain isnt flat.

One more thing I just thought of: not all the world's land is arable.

Yet another thing: most of Australia is desert, and is close to supporting all the people it can currently.

Few more things: fresh water? resources? transport? infrastructure? geology? temperatures?

RE: Urban mobility...
By bigdawg1988 on 2/28/2012 2:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
Plus Australia is full of deadly creatures that want to kill you to death!!
Would solve the population problem though....

RE: Urban mobility...
By Spuke on 2/28/2012 4:54:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another thing: most of Australia is desert, and is close to supporting all the people it can currently.
There's already few million people living in the desert just in SoCal. With the theoretical 100 billion people in Australia, money for infrastructure, transport or anything else would be a non-issue.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki