In yet another sign that this week’s annual CES tech expo in Las Vegas will focus heavily on the changing world of autos, Ford said today that it was striking deals with Amazon and DJI to further digitize its vehicles. Soon, you may see Ford cars that drive themselves, talk to your home and even talk to your drone.
To begin, the automaker will announce that it is tripling its fleet of autonomous vehicles in 2016, upping its total to 30 test vehicles on the road. It is also announcing a novel integration with Amazon: Ford’s in-car software will soon connect with connected-home devices, especially its Amazon Echo.
“We want to put an exclamation point [on our move] from an auto company to an auto and mobility company,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told Re/code in an interview tonight. “We’ve been at this a long time, but we will be accelerating going forward.”
Despite reports of a deal with Google to be announced during CES, Fields said that Ford will not be using the Internet giant’s autonomous vehicle software. “We talk with everyone, and those conversations are private,” Fields said.
Ford is also making other moves at CES, announcing plans to equip its cars with mobile Internet from AT&T, and also announcing the first fruits of its effort to get other carmakers to use the core of its in-car entertainment and navigation system. Toyota is committing to use Ford’s SmartDeviceLink approach, while Mazda, Honda and Subaru are considering doing so.
As for its Amazon deal, the automaker’s CEO said, “What we want to do is move aggressively into home integrations with the car.” Some scenarios he raised include starting your car or checking your gas level from the Echo system, or accessing the home-security system from your car.
“This is about empowering customers and giving them a great experience,” Fields said.
As for the drone deal with Chinese manufacturer DJI, Fields said that Ford was setting up a developer challenge to coordinate communication between drones and its automobiles. One project he discussed was using F-150 trucks in crisis areas where drones could take off and land from their beds, and then communicate information to the driver.
When asked about today’s big news from Ford rival General Motors, which is investing $500 million in and working on a self-driving partnership with car-sharing startup Lyft, Fields said: “It was interesting.”
He continued: “We’re more interested in growing our core business and emerging mobility services business — and doing it in a way that provides our customer benefit and makes business sense.”
He added: “We are open to a lot of different things, but we are not interested in doing contract manufacturing.”
The car wars are indeed on.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.