Ford Makes Its Way to Silicon Valley with New Research Lab
January 6, 2012 10:52 AM
The lab is expected to help the automaker develop new partnerships with tech firms and universities
Ford announced a new research lab today that will represent the automaker's first step into Silicon Valley.
Ford is planning to build and open the Silicon Valley research lab early this year. The idea behind the new structure is to create new partnerships with a variety of technology firms as well as surrounding universities like Stanford in an effort to develop
affordable and innovative technology
for personal mobility.
The new lab will be placed in the San Francisco Bay area in California. Ford made it clear that this new lab will not replace or duplicate work from the automaker's Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, its technology office in Nanjing, China or its European facility in Aachen, Germany. Rather, the Silicon Valley version will focus on independent technology projects and the development of partnerships with surrounding companies like Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.
"Ford has an incredible heritage of driving innovation in the transportation and manufacturing sectors during the past 107 years," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. "Now it's time to prepare for the next 100 years, ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker.
"An open attitude to
is critical to solving the transportation, environmental and societal challenges we expect in the future. With increasing pressures from urbanization and the need to reduce energy use, we’re going to see energy storage, wireless connectivity, sensing systems and even autonomous vehicles as key parts of the solution.”
Ford mentioned that the number of employees at the new lab will be "comparable to what you expect of a startup," meaning probably not many for now.
Ford has outlined a few areas it hopes to focus on and accomplish in particular via the Silicon Valley lab, including personal mobility, the use of sensors to improve a range of driving functions such as intelligent windshield wipers, and open-source hardware and software developer kits to supply developers with important vehicle data for the creation of new services and cloud-based apps. In fact, Ford is launching research platform OpenXC for developers along with New York-based Bug Labs.
More ideas for the new lab will be described by Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally when he attends the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 11.
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