Remember when Google Maps started letting you compare travel time between "driving, walking, public transport?" Probably not, because we take it for granted. Now Ford is experimenting with a vehicle-and-nav-system pairing that's just as versatile.

The experiment is Ford's latest foray to move beyond cars and into a "mobility provider" with a cool folding bike that fits into their cars, but it's actually a lot more interesting.

The idea is that an app would direct into or around a city with GPS that guided you all the way to your destination via car, to a public transit station, or another parking area where you could hop on your bike (or some combination) depending on what's most efficient based on user-set preferences.

It then goes a step further to integrate guidance to the bicycle in a way that's never been done before; with handle-bar grip vibrations telling you when to turn and automatically-activated turn signals.

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The app would "identify bike-friendly roads, hazards and alerts," and in a world where every traveler was using it, "sense and communicate with other vehicles."

The bikes and experiment were just unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in two variants:

  • MoDe:Me e-bike – built with the help of bicycle manufacturer Dahon – is intended for urban commuters to keep moving in congested city traffic. It folds and stows easily, allowing commuters to park on the city outskirts, take the e-bike onto public transport and travel to the centre, then ride the e-bike to their destination
  • MoDe:Pro e-bike – built by a Ford team – is intended for urban commercial use such as by couriers, electricians, and goods and delivery services. It is designed to stow safely into commercial vehicles such as Transit Connect, which can act as carrier and support vehicle, and be combined with more than one e-bike

To lay the groundwork for how Ford might optimize their navigation system for bicycles, they want to put people pedaling around cities in their Bluetooth equipped recon bikes. The idea is they'll gather realistic data about good biking routes.

No concrete claims have been made about when Ford's Smart Mobility Plan could reach consumer use, but it's a very cool idea regarding optimization of travel.

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Images via Ford