Ford opened a new 25,000-square-foot analysis center in Silicon Valley in a move to be closer to the tech industry.
The Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto was created to accelerate the “development of technologies and experiments in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.”
“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.
“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 research center joints Ford’s network of research and innovation centers, such as its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics. In Aachen, Germany, the automotive giant has a facility that focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.
By the end of 2015 Ford expects to have one of the largest automotive manufacturer research centers in Silicon Valley, with more than 125 researchers, scientists, and engineers.
Dragos Maciuca will be leading the new research center. Maciuca has a a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from its Haas School of Business. He used to work at Apple and has a background in consumer electronics, and semiconductor manufacturing.
Ford’s wants to push innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.
The Palo Alto team is going to be playing an important role in research and development in these areas.
“Future mobility solutions will require fresh ideas and vigorous collaboration between researchers inside Ford and with other technology leaders outside the automotive industry,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer.
“Our Palo Alto research team will build on existing relationships with universities and technology companies, and forge new ones to help us create and apply the appropriate technology working together.”