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Ford SA rolls out SYNC3

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Ford South Africa is launching the SYNC3 infotainment and embedded navigation system for the first time on its local model line-up.

Released initially as part of specification upgrades for the Ford Ranger and Everest this month, this will be followed by the Ford Focus.

“We have had great customer interest in adding navigation to our innovative SYNC  technology, and are proud to now launch SYNC 3 with navigation,” says Tracey Delate, General Manager, Marketing – Sub-Saharan Africa Region. “Adding SYNC 3 with navigation allows us to introduce further practical features customers use every day, seamlessly integrated into the vehicle to provide both convenience and driving safety.”

“We will introduce SYNC 3 with navigation to a total of seven models over the next 14 months, which is a great benefit for our customers.”

Next-Level Connectivity

The latest-generation SYNC 3 infotainment system was launched late last year, delivering the next level of connectivity with an easy-to-use design, high-speed performance and enhanced voice recognition.

With the addition of SYNC 3 with navigation, the system boasts full feature embedded navigation, along with all the benefits of SYNC 3’s faster performance, brighter capacitive eight-inch colour touch screen that offers clearer icons and convenient multi-touch gestures (such as swipe, slide, scroll and pinch-to-zoom), plus voice recognition that uses simple, real-world voice commands.

SYNC 3 with navigation provides a full 3-D experience with elevated map view, enhanced full colour graphics and point of interest (POI) building images. Similar to searching on Google, destinations can be entered via the simple one-box search by typing the address, POI category, intersection, city, postal code or GPS coordinates. The search function is predictive, with results appearing as the information is typed. Voice commands can also be used to select a POI.

The system allows addresses or points of interest to be saved as favourites, which can be accessed through the Favourites icon on the touch screen, or the “Destination Favourites” voice command.

When driving, the navigation map displays a raft of information, including the next manoeuvre; current speed limit; current GPS speed; and a choice of estimated time of arrival; time to reach destination; or distance to destination. Enhanced junction view zooms in as the vehicle approaches a crossing, providing detailed lane visuals and guidance. Similarly, it zooms out when the next manoeuvre is more than 3km away. Highway services information is included, such as rest stops and garages, with the nearest filling stations automatically appearing on the map when the fuel is low.

Mapping for over 20 countries, plus Tracks4Africa

All SYNC 3 with navigation systems sold in South Africa have access to more than 20 country maps including: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. More than 3.6-million kilometres of road and 869 000 POIs are listed.

Another fantastic innovation is the inclusion of Tracks4Africa, allowing owners to take advantage of the unique mapping created from the collective travel experience of the Tracks4Africa travelling community. This includes gravel roads with hazard notifications, off-road tracks, four-wheel drive routes and rocky roads, as well as deep sand routes. Additionally, more than 129 000 POIs are included, encompassing diverse types of accommodation, services (fuel stops, tyre repair shops), leisure and recreational venues, as well as emergency points of interest (police, hospitals, embassies and clinics).

In order to ensure that customers have the best possible experience, all models equipped with SYNC 3 with navigation in South Africa receive free annual map updates for a period of five years. Additionally, text and voice guidance are available in a multitude of languages, comprising Afrikaans, Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Zulu.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Aside from the addition of navigation, SYNC 3 also offers the benefits of smartphone integration provided through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which transforms the phone’s connectivity with the car. Through Apple CarPlay, SYNC 3 can be used to access Siri, make calls, return missed calls and listen to voice mail, as well as send, read and reply to text messages. Songs, playlists and compatible apps like Apple Maps, can also be accessed.

Similar functionality is provided with Android Auto, with the Google platform used to interact with the phone, and access apps such as Google Maps. Licenses for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still being finalised for official release in the collective Middle East and Africa region, and therefore will be introduced as they become available in market.

To keep the system up to date, periodic over-the-air software updates for SYNC 3 can be downloaded via Wi-Fi, once it is set up on a trusted wireless network.

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Meet Aston Martin F1’s incredible moving data centre

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team faces a great deal more IT challenges than your average enterprise as not many IT teams have to rebuild their data center 21 times each year and get it running it up in a matter of hours. Not many data centers are packed up and transported around the world by air and sea along with 45 tonnes of equipment. Not many IT technicians also have to perform a dual role as pit stop mechanic.

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The trackside garage at an F1 race is a tight working environment and a team of only two IT technicians face pressure from both the factory and trackside staff to get the trackside IT up and running very fast. Yet, despite all these pressures, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing do not have a cloud-led strategy. Instead they have chosen to keep all IT in house.

The reason for this is performance. F1 is arguably the ultimate performance sport. A walk round the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, England, makes it abundantly clear that the whole organization is hell bent on maximizing performance. 700 staff at the factory are all essentially dedicated to the creation of just two cars. The level of detail that is demanded in reaching peak performance is truly mind blowing. For example, one machine with a robotic arm that checks the dimensions of the components built at the factory is able to measure accuracy to a scale 10 times thinner than a human hair.

This quest for maximum performance, however, is hampered at every turn by the stringent rules from the F1 governing body – the FIA. Teams face restrictions on testing and technology usage in order to prevent the sport becoming an arms race. So, for example, pre-season track testing is limited to only 8 days. Furthermore, wind tunnel testing is only allowed with 60% scale models and wind tunnel-usage is balanced with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, essentially a virtual wind tunnel. Teams that overuse one, lose time with the other.

In order to maximize performance within uniquely difficult logistical and regulatory conditions, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team has had to deploy a very powerful and agile IT estate.

According to Neil Bailey, Head of IT Infrastructure, Enterprise Architecture and Innovation, their legacy trackside infrastructure was “creaking”. Before choosing hyperconverged infrastructure, their “traditional IT had reached its limits”, says Bailey. “When things reach their limits they break, just like a car,” adds Bailey.

The team’s biggest emphasis for switching to HPE’s hyperconverged infrastructure, SimpliVity, was performance. Now, with “the extra performance of SimpliVity, it means it doesn’t get to its limits,” says Bailey. HPE SimpliVity has helped reduce space, has optimized processing power and brought more agility.

One of the first and most important use cases they switched to hyperconverged infrastructure was post-processing trackside data. During a race weekend each car is typically fitted with over 100 sensors providing key data on things like tyre temperature and downforce multiple times per second. Processing this data and acting on the insights is key to driving performance improvements. With their legacy infrastructure, Bailey says they were “losing valuable track time during free practice waiting for data processing to take place.” Since switching to HPE SimpliVity, data processing has dropped from being more than 15 minutes to less than 5 minutes. Overall, the team has seen a 79% performance boost compared to the legacy architecture. This has allowed for real time race strategy analysis and has improved race strategy decision making.

Data insights helps the team stay one step ahead, as race strategy decisions are data driven. For example, real time tyre temperature data helps the team judge tyre wear and make pit stop decisions. Real time access to tyre data helped the team to victory at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix as the Aston Martin Red Bull cars pitted ahead of the rest of the field and Daniel Ricciardo swept to a memorable victory.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is also well suited to the “hostile” trackside environment, according to Bailey. With hyperconverged infrastructure, only two racks are needed at each race of which SimpliVity only takes up about 20% of the space, thus freeing up key space in very restricted trackside garages. Furthermore, with the team limited to 60 staff at each race, only two of Bailey’s team can travel. The reduction in equipment and closer integration of HPE SimpliVity means engineers can get the trackside data center up and running quickly and allow trackside staff to start work as soon as they arrive.

Since seeing the notable performance gains from using hyperconverged infrastructure for trackside data processing, the team has also transitioned some of the factory’s IT estate over to HPE SimpliVity. This includes: Aerodynamic metrics, ERP system, SQL server, exchange server and the team’s software house, the Team Foundation Server.

As well as seeing huge performance benefits, HPE SimpliVity has significantly impacted the work patterns of Bailey’s team of just ten. According to Bailey, the biggest operational win from hyperconverged infrastructure is “freeing up engineers’ time from focusing on ‘business as usual’ to innovation.” Traditional IT took up too much of the engineers’ time monitoring systems and just keeping things running. Now with HPE SimpliVity, Bailey’s team can “give the business more and quicker” and “be more creative with how they use technology.”

Hyperconverged infrastructure has given Aston Martin Red Bull Racing the speed, scalability and agility they require without any need to turn to the cloud. It allows them to deliver more and more resources to trackside staff in an increasingly responsive manner. However, even with all these performance gains, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been able to reduce IT costs. So, the users are happy, the finance director is happy and the IT team are happy because their jobs are easier. Hyperconvergence is clearly the right choice for the unique challenges of Formula 1 racing.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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