News Column

Ford Unveils Silicon Valley Lab

June 20, 2012

Alisa Priddle


Ford's new Silicon Valley Lab in Palo Alto, Calif, is now open for business in the heart of the computer and electronics industry, where the automaker hopes to further relationships and research into the future of personal mobility.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford was at the grand opening today and will participate in a lecture series tonight at the Computer History Museum.

At conferences around the world, Bill Ford has been calling for partnerships between carmakers and those in the electronics and telecommunications business. He hopes the industries can work together to combat traffic gridlock and prevent accidents by using cell phones, sensors and other technology.

"We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don't have a monopoly on creativity," Bill Ford said in a statement. "Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades."

The automaker already has research facilities in Dearborn; Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China; and technology scouts in Tel Aviv, Israel.

"We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer and head of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "We are looking for unexpected solutions for the future, and we believe Silicon Valley is the right place to round out our global research organization.

"We view technology as more than just an impressive list of microprocessors, sensors and software," he added. "It is the enabler of a safe, intuitive and enjoyable time behind the wheel."

The independent lab will focus on data to develop and market new vehicles and improve the safety and efficiency of driving.

And while Ford has invested heavily in its Sync in-car connectivity system, the lab will also look at other open-source hardware and software innovations that could apply to future vehicles.

The lab will also address how drivers interact with their vehicle to prevent driver distraction and promote safety.

"As new ways of processing, curating and filtering information are conceived, the possibilities for enhancing personal mobility are virtually limitless," said Venkatesh Prasad, the lab's general manager.

"With many of the finest forward-thinking minds in the world located in the San Francisco Bay region, the Ford Silicon Valley Lab is ideally positioned to interact with and forge connections to local innovators and grow the relationships with our current partners."

Source: (c) 2012 the Detroit Free Press

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