Washington said Ford is taking steps to integrate artificial intelligence throughout its new mobility operations and, in addition to boosting AI, his long-term strategy includes more focus on the power of computing and the importance of digital networks.
Like most other automakers, Ford is in the early stages of its journey with artificial intelligence, but it has made major strides.
Some examples: Ford is investing $1 billion over five years in Pittsburgh-based Argo AI to develop a virtual driver system for its self-driving vehicles. The Ford Transportation Mobility Cloud — an open, cloud-based platform — manages information flow and can ingest the complex data from Ford vehicles. Ford acquired Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology company Autonomic, which created the mobility cloud, in 2018. It is now a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility LLC.
Ford also has been working on its cybersecurity protection strategies and getting its data strategy aligned with its goals for privacy, Washington said.
He said Ford aims to use artificial intelligence in the development of both self-driving and human-controlled vehicles.
"The impact of artificial intelligence is much broader than autonomous vehicles," Washington said. "Autonomous vehicles get a lot of the attention, but the potential of harnessing artificial intelligence to bring better and new experiences to our customer extends from music services to digital assistants in the vehicle to personalization, including how we make vehicles."
For example, Ford relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning in its Sync infotainment system to help with drivers' music selections and to learn other in-vehicle preferences based on previous usage.
Washington said his priority for the coming year is to "close the data loop" on the company's connected vehicles to ensure all of that data can be used for future vehicle development.
Washington said a big example of closing that loop is Ford's plan to bring to market this year the first two vehicles that have its fully networked electric vehicle architecture. They are the Mustang Mach-E and a yet-to-be announced vehicle.
"AI will be even more important and even more pervasive in everything that we do," Washington said. "We're all in when it comes to AI. We're still fairly early in the journey, so we know it's going to take time for us to realize the full potential of AI."