Today’s cars are now important pieces of personal technology. They keep us connected with emails, text messages, and phone calls all managed through increasingly complex infotainment systems. When they work, they’re brilliant, but when they fail they can make you want to take a sledgehammer to your touchscreen. Ford is trying to make sure the sledgehammer stays in the garage with an increased commitment to connected cars.
The company announced it’s hiring 400 new engineers specifically to work on the hardware and software needed for connected cars. Early on, Ford’s infotainment system was roundly criticized for being difficult to use and unnecessarily complex. The system has improved over the years, but Ford wants to make sure it leads the pack rather than playing catch-up.
Ford is hiring 300 engineers in Canada and another 100 in the United States, doubling the number of people working on this technology. Along with the new hires comes plans for a new technology center in Ottawa, Canada.
Many of those new hires come from BlackBerry, which may seem a little backward since the company closed its handset business. The business may not have succeed, but Ford sees these new hires as talented individuals who have the skills they need to build connected car technologies people will want to use. Part of that experience includes working with QNX, which is the operating system used by Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system.
These new engineers will be working to improve the current infotainment system as well as preparing for the future. This includes device-to-device communication and the technologies needed to take self-driving cars from testing to reality. Driver assist features are also a part of the mix. Safety technologies like automatic emergency braking are on our cars today as optional features, but will become crucial for self-driving cars.
It all fits with Ford’s focus on not being a car company, but a mobility company. It’s looking at a future of ride-sharing and connectivity that helps those otherwise confined to their homes get around just like those with personal cars and the ability to drive.
Saying it aims to move from car company to mobility company is nice marketing jargon. Hiring engineers to focus solely on the connectivity of its cars is how it plans to make that marketing jargon a reality.