Ford wants to turn commuting into a game with its Smart Mobility Game Challenge

2015 Ford Focus
Ford thinks gamification could help streamline people’s commutes, and it’s calling on game developers to try to make that happen.

The car company from Dearborn, Michigan, went to Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, to launch the Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge. Brewed up with Cologne Game Lab, it calls on developers to create games that can show ways of integrating different transportation modes.

Ford hopes it can glean insight into how to connect different forms of transportation, such as public transit, cycling, and its own cars, to identify the most efficient door-to-door journey for a given situation. It believes gamification might be one way to encourage people to fully consider all of their options.

Potential games could, for example, reward commuters based on criteria like time taken for a journey, cost, comfort, and convenience, Ford says. The company also suggests that these games could use personal data harvested from smartphones and other devices.

Other possibilities include games that reward commuters for walking or cycling in appropriate weather, that connect users to car-sharing services like Ford’s own European GoDrive, or that encourage people to take under-utilized routes, which Ford claims might help ease congestion in cities.

Ford will pick five finalists, whose games will be judged by a panel of experts. The winner will receive 10,000 euros ($10,887), and an opportunity to show their game at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The game challenge is the latest manifestation of Ford’s “Smart Mobility Plan,” a wide-reaching effort to cultivate what the company sees as relevant technologies and trends, including self-driving cars, increased connectivity, and alternatives to ownership like car-sharing services.

The ongoing first phase of the Smart Mobility effort includes 25 experiments being conducted in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa focusing on those areas. End products are expected to include Ford’s first production self-driving car.

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