As part of a "Cloud Computing in the Commute" class at the University of Michigan, students have been working on the next generation of in-car connectivity based on access to Ford's developmental application platform, built on Microsoft Windows 7 and Robotics Developer Studio in the vehicle and integrated with Windows Azure in the cloud. The students have been able to capitalize on vehicle performance data, network access to the cloud, voice recognition, social networking and other tools to create a new breed of applications for in-car use.

Six teams of students will demonstrate their projects on the 23rd April, which include a green-routing system that guides vehicles on the most fuel-efficient path, a collaborative ridesharing program that could connect drivers and potential riders, an on-the-go recommendation system and a road-trip caravan app, among other projects.

The class was taught by Jason Flinn and Brian Noble, associate professors in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and T.J. Giuli from Ford, with guest lecturers from Microsoft.

"This is a brand-new platform for the car, with potential that is only beginning to be realized. After all, the types of apps that make sense on a phone don't make sense in a car, and we need to deal with issues like hands-free operation and driver distraction," Noble said. "I think these students have done some pretty cool stuff. What has made this so successful is the close collaboration with Ford and Microsoft."

"By working with Ford and the University of Michigan, Microsoft is helping further technology innovations within the automotive industry and providing customers with a consistent, connected in-vehicle experience that seamlessly integrates into their digital lifestyles," said David Graff, director of U.S. Automotive and Industrial Equipment Industry Solutions, Microsoft. "We look forward to continued collaboration opportunities to fuel the connectivity of future in-car systems with the vast world of Windows."

Ford and Microsoft's collaboration on this project builds on a decade-long partnership. The Ford SYNC communications and infotainment system, built on the Windows Embedded Automotive software platform, has been installed on more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles since its launch in 2007.

This class was the first phase of a larger project Ford calls "American Journey 2.0." After the evening's presentations, a panel of judges from Ford, U-M, and Microsoft will pick the winning application set. The winning application will run on a Windows 7 PC in a 2011 Ford Fiesta, which will be driven by the student team alongside a networked vehicle and team from Ford and Microsoft. In early May, the team will embark on a socially networked road trip from Ann Arbor to Maker Faire, the world's largest do-it-yourself ideas festival in Silicon Valley, which begins May 22, 2010.

For more information see the full press release: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=7658