Ford officially helped lead the auto industry into a new era late last week, delivering its first software updates wirelessly to several hundred 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers.
The first update was a simple one – fixing bugs and making minor upgrades, but it marks the first step with a new capability that will fundamentally change how Ford connects with customers, improves quality and delivers new features. After this first wave, Ford will continue delivering the update to larger groups of customers.
April Johnson, who leads the team responsible for deploying software updates wirelessly, was charged with hitting the activate button. Her team handles the logistics of getting updates to customers, including scheduling and delivery methods. Johnson works closely with the validation team responsible for ensuring the over-the-air architecture is working properly and that the cloud can deliver software updates correctly.
“This is a great time at Ford Motor Company, and today we hope to build on our momentum by delivering our first wireless software updates to customers,” she said in a video capturing the moment the initial updates went out. “I am so honored to be able to share this moment with the Ford family.”
Johnson has been involved in updating Ford vehicles in some shape or form since she started working at Ford 11 years ago. She began her career at the company as part of the in-vehicle software department, which managed the software Ford delivered for servicing vehicles.
Speaking with @Ford, Johnson explained that this process wasn’t nearly so convenient. She had to update individual modules within vehicles one at a time, moving from one to the other – and then from one vehicle to another – with a laptop in hand. Eventually, team members were able to use their laptops to write test tools capable of plugging into a diagnostic connector and updating the whole vehicle at once.
“After that, our team thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do this all wirelessly?’” said Johnson. “And now, that’s exactly what we’re doing!”
Johnson said this is a big moment for Ford because there’s a huge transition going on in the industry, and it’s important to show Ford is always looking to improve the experience of its customers with new developments in technology. Software updates delivered wirelessly allow Ford to provide must-have new features, as well as quality upgrades that improve vehicles over time. The ability to test new features and incorporate feedback will enable Ford to create even better experiences and develop stronger relationships with its customers.
Johnson said so many people deserve a shoutout in the development of this technology. “A lot of great, smart people went into making this capability what it is today – lots of long hours and hard work – so it’s really good to see it come to fruition,” she said.