While car makers are scrambling to make cars smarter, even self-sufficient, not all automotive innovations need a drastic change in the car’s systems. And some need not even change the car itself. As part of its “Further with Ford” program, the car maker looked to its own designers and engineers to come with up not just with ideas but also working prototypes to make drivers’ and commuters’ lives easier. Thus, experiments like Carr-E, Phone As Car, and On the Go H2O were born.
Perhaps taking inspiration from Wall-E, the Carr-E is what you’d get if you crossed a Roomba with a hoverboard, but with a design that still looks like a car. The idea for this mode of transportation, because, yes, you actually do ride on it, was to take care of that “last mile”, that stretch between the parking space and the house or building door that no car can drive through. It also functions as a personal baggage cart when you have to carry heavy loads.
Of the three, Phone As Car is probably the one with the least intuitive name, and also the one that is perhaps the hardest to explain. In a nutshell, it provides riders with a connection to a Ford car’s SYNC system without having to pair with it via Bluetooth. Instead, the rider’s smartphone app uses open source protocols to connect with the driver’s smartphone which, in turn, is the one directly connected to SYNC. What happens afterwards is the more interesting part. With the connection, passengers on ride sharing services will be able to control certain parts of the car, like radio and climate. Even more useful when driver and rider don’t speak the same language. Riders can simply type in their message and the text gets translated for the driver.
Last but definitely no the least, On the Go H2O is the most ecological of batch. Addressing the need for water, both for the car’s passengers as well as the world at large, the system converts and purifies the condensation from a car’s A/C system into potable water, envisioned as a way to minimize stops for water or provide water in long treks in remote locations. Maybe just don’t tell the passenger where the water came from.