DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is partnering with Qualcomm, AT&T and Nokia to test cellular modems that can connect vehicles to each other and roadside infrastructure to help navigate in bad weather or construction zones.
The tests — billed as the first of their kind in the U.S. — will take place later this year near San Diego, Ford said Tuesday. Similar tests have taken place in Europe.
The technology, known as cellular-V2X, is meant to connect vehicles with traffic lights, roadside beacons and other vehicles to share real-time information about the driving conditions around them. It's supposed to improve safety and help speed the deployment of self-driving vehicles.
Ford vehicles will be installed with Qualcomm hardware powered by AT&T's 4G LTE cellular network and Nokia's computing technology.
"C-V2X provides a reassuring path to technology advancements necessary to support emerging developments in autonomy, automated driving, and mobility," Ford's executive director of connected vehicle and services, Don Butler, said in a statement.
The automaker is progressively adding driver-assistance technology in its vehicles as it works toward deploying Level 4 autonomous vehicles on the road in 2021. CEO Jim Hackett said last week that Ford plans to test self-driving vehicles in an unspecified market next year.
Hackett has set a goal of building modem connectivity into Ford's full U.S. vehicle lineup by 2019.