As Ford continues to push its autonomous vehicle operation forward, a new patent filed by the company outlines a way ridesharing vehicles can be sorted based on the way they smell. This patent includes autonomous vehicles and those driven by rideshare workers.
The patent, titled “Transportation System Using Odor Preferences,” could help rideshare users who are sensitive to odors like cigarette smoke. For example, if a non-smoker needs a vehicle that has not been smoked in because of a sensitive lung condition, Ford’s technology could ensure they get the right vehicle for their needs.
The patent was invented to convey interior environment information to passengers, so their environment matches their needs and preferences. Currently, the patent is mostly flowcharts that outline how the system would alert users. In addition to rideshare vehicles, the technology could be used in vehicles like taxis, rental cars, and vehicles provided as part of transportation as a service system.
The environment detecting system would include a computer remote from the vehicle. The computer would be programmed to store the label of an odor associated with a driver. A potential passenger would receive data from the environmental sensors in the car and a message determining if the data indicates that a level of odor exceeds a predetermined threshold.
Currently, the implementation of this technology is a ways away. It is dependent upon the decisions Ford makes in the future regarding their autonomous vehicle program; however, the patent ensures other companies cannot copy or reproduce the technology for their own benefit or profit.
In total, Ford plans to spend more than $4 billion on its autonomous vehicle operation. Sorting vehicles by odor is only one of the features the company plans to introduce. The same system could be used to provide the rider with information about the driver and their vehicle, including the make, model, color, and license plate number. The system also has the potential to provide ratings based on prior customer feedback, which passengers could use to determine if the assigned rideshare vehicle is right for them.
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