Car navigation systems have existed for well over a decade to get you to your decided-upon destination. But what if you also want to have your car programmed to optimize your fuel economy along that route? The future is not too far off. In May at the Google I/O conference, Ford Motor Company announced plans to leverage Google's new Prediction API to advance research toward improving energy efficiency and the overall driving experience.

Coupled with Ford's own predictive driver behavior research and analysis, Google Prediction API allows for cloud computing and analytics to further optimize vehicles of the future by predicting driving patterns and adjusting controls to optimize fuel or hybrid-electric efficiency.

The process is a cinch: the Google API translates historical driving data into useful real-time predictions, such as where a driver is headed based on day, time or location of departure. Your GPS coordinates are processed through Ford's algorithms to note the location and then come coupled with a day and time tag.

The API, or application programming interface, has large-scale computations capabilities and machine learning to allow your vehicle to build a model around your behavior and act upon your preferences to optimize powertrain. The data held in a cloud can then be tapped when applicable to low emission zones (a concept gaining moment in Europe) that would prohibit gas use in certain neighborhoods or areas. It's essentially a nuanced I.Q. boost for your vehicle.



Further applications that developers could create may allow the Prediction API to tap into such factors as the weather and make route decisions accordingly.

If, say, you're driving from Manhattan to the Jersey Shore for a nice bro-out session, and you don't want to flood your summer house neighborhood with emissions, you can specify your preference to go EV in that area; your car will allocate its energy resources accordingly so that there's enough charge in your electrical grid as you get near the beach to go battery-powered. All the Guidettes will surely rejoice.

Once your data has been stored for long enough to prognosticate your behavior, your car may eventually be able to know you like to go on that annual ski trip in February and that you like to stop at this or that fast-food joint on the way.

This technology is certainly not vaporware, but it is not quite complete to be marketed and purveyed. Ford is continuing to see how drivers' habit charge over time while making use of Google's incremental update technology. The Ford escape hybrid has been the test car for these trials.

As this particular technology and Google partnership exists only at Ford for the time being, it may become a strategic factor in maintaining customers' brand loyalty in an effort to have access to their cloud data when deciding upon a new vehicle.

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