Ford partners with Google to bring Android Automotive to its future cars

Ford Ranger Thunder cabin

Ford will start to switch to Google's Android operating system from 2023

Ford and Google have entered a six-year partnership deal that will provide the automaker with the Mountain View, California-based company's software for improved in-car connectivity and cloud services. Millions of vehicles will be powered by Android with Google apps and services built in, Ford said in its release.

As part of the deal, Google will be the "preferred cloud provider" for Ford, which will be able to leverage the tech giant's expertise in data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Ford on Monday announced a partnership with Google that will see the automaker use Android Automotive to power the infotainment systems in its vehicles beginning in 2023. It's a global roll-out, so most markets will get this, except China, where Google is banned.

Today's announcement marks a bit of a turnaround for Ford, which had previously banded together with a group of other vehicle manufacturers with the explicit goal of keeping Google's role in the automotive industry to a minimum. Google will need to continue accumulating these types of customer wins to catch cloud market leaders Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft. "It's a really strategic one because it links all the elements: The experience people have in the cars while they're driving, the experience they have in the front office, the transformation of manufacturing and supply chain, and the modernization of the IT system".

Ford will start exploring this year the use of technology to provide oversight and quality control of factory robotics as well as additional training of UAW members on the plant floors, while Ford customers will start seeing new driver experiences in the 2023 calendar year.

Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO, and David McClelland, Ford vice president of Strategy and Partnerships, revealed the details in a virtual news conference. They will continue to help us in the near term.

For McClelland, the move to Google was compelling because the internet company is offering a partnership, rather than a transactional relationship.

"Working together with Google allows us to unlock experiences and be disruptive", McClelland said. Google will contribute dozens of engineers to the innovation team to help Ford explore digital services it can develop for consumers.

The two firms aim to bring "enjoyable, safer and more efficient connected vehicle experiences built to minimise driver distraction and keep customers at the forefront of technology withover-the-air [software] updates".

"Android in the auto also enables Ford and third-party developers to build apps that provide a constantly improving and ever-more-personalised ownership experience", Ford said.

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