Ford's motorcycle sensors aim to improve access to health care in West Africa

An OpenXC sensor
An OpenXC sensor | Contributed photo
Auto company Ford recently expanded use of its OpenXC sensor technology -- which has been available in its cars and trucks -- to motorcycles in an effort to help people in West Africa receive better access to health care.

The move is part of Ford's Riders for Health program, which uses GPS information collected from motorcycles and other bikes to help medical-services organizations reach people in West Africa's more-remote areas and ensure they have access to medical care, including vaccines and medicines, that they need.

“OpenXC started as a project to make a car send a tweet five years ago, but has since become a platform, or an ‘Internet of mobility’ that allows us to use data to better understand how people move around the world,” Ken Washington, Ford's vice president of research and advanced engineering, said. “Now, the same open-innovation mentality behind OpenXC has inspired our team to create a sensor kit for bicycles and motorcycles to learn how other transportation options might best serve people in urban, suburban and rural areas, including improving their health.”

OpenXC provides researchers with real-time data from the vehicles in which it is installed. This process, in which researchers gather and analyze data from vehicles, is all part of Ford's Smart Mobility initiative.

With the sensors, researchers can monitor acceleration, traffic patterns, road-condition updates and wheel speeds.

“Our goal is to understand what mobility means to people who don’t have access to their own vehicles,” Arthur Zysk, a Ford research analyst who leads the Smart Mobility project, said. “Ford’s commitment to smart-mobility innovation is driving real, measurable change.”

As the technology advances, Ford hopes to bring ambulance and emergency-services companies into the loop to improve access to health care in remote areas.

Researchers continue exploring how bike and vehicle data can be analyzed to gain a greater understanding of how different transportation modes might best meet future mobility needs.

For more information about OpenXC, Riders for Health, Smart Mobility and Ford's other products and initiatives, log on to

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