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Ford Opens New Research and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/25/2015 Jason Udy
Ford Opens New Research and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley

Ford is expanding its global research team with the new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, which opened this week. The automaker chose Silicon Valley to accelerate research and development of new technologies including connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, and big data.

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“At Ford, we view ourselves as both a mobility and an auto company, as we drive innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO, in a release. “This new research center shows Ford’s commitment to be part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem – anticipating customers’ wants and needs, especially on connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. We are working to make these new technologies accessible to everyone, not just luxury customers.”

The new Palo Alto facility joins Fords other research and innovation centers in Dearborn, Michigan (advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics) and Aachen, Germany (next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies, and active safety systems).

By the end of the year, Ford expects to have 125 researchers, engineers, and scientists working at the new Palo Alto facility, which will make it one of the largest automaker research centers in Silicon Valley. With the new facility located in Stanford Research Park, the automaker is working with the university by providing a Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle to students for testing.

Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle Front© Provided by MotorTrend Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle Front Ford also brought over Dragos Maciuca, a former Apple engineer, to be the senior technical leader at the new facility. Maciuca’s background experience includes consumer electronics, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace, and automotive as well as with startups and collaborating with universities.

One thing the facility will be working on is the furthering of the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which the automaker debuted at the 2015 CES earlier this month. Some of the projects include connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, big data, and analytics. Connectivity refers to integrating the car with the Nest app, which controls the home’s thermostat to provide the proper temperature when the owner arrives home. With mobility, the automaker is working to control the vehicles remotely, which could be used for valet parking.

Ford is also using gaming software, called aDRIVE (for Autonomous Driving Refined in Virtual Environments), to test features like traffic sign recognition. The automaker also wants to improve the customer experience by improving the human-machine interface by understanding how the owner prefers to interact with the vehicle features. Ford is using its OpenXC platform to understand how customers use their cars to make future improvements.

The automaker hopes to grow existing relationships with Silicon Valley companies and universities and create new ones to continually improve vehicle technologies.

Source: Ford

Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle Front Three Quarter Stationary© Provided by MotorTrend Ford Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle Front Three Quarter Stationary
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