Ford to Open New Research Lab in Silicon Valley

Ken Hong January 7, 2012 0
Ford to Open New Research Lab in Silicon Valley

Ford has finally taken the step to further its technology research on the west coast by building a research lab close to the rest of the big dogs in the valley, names such as Google, Microsoft, and did I say Facebook? Not to mention Apple, Intel, and Cisco are also not too far away. What better location but next to the established Stanford University in Palo Alto for its collaboration and experimentation needs, just to name one.

The idea behind this project is of course like many other new developments, to seek better, cleaner and hopefully cheaper forms of technology for consumers. But Ford also wants to go as far as keeping ahead of the trend and making sure its consumer desirability. From its headquarter in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford said its future “is not just about building cars” but also about creating “uncompromised personal mobility experiences for people around the world” alongside the fact to keep the affordability logical for millions of people.

The lab is also said to better implement phone and other devices into cars, along with safety systems that alert the driver when approaching cars. Though, I’m not sure how the NTSB push for complete cell phone ban while driving will affect the phone proposal. Amongst the agenda is testing applications like the one Ford is working on now that is able to find and reserve a parking spot, and improve weather reporting by transmitting signals when the car’s rain sensor wipers kicks in. On a larger scale, referring back to the statement made earlier regarding “uncompromised personal mobility experiences” deals with how to better handle the traffic in crowded countries such as China and India.

With so much resources at its expense, Ford can easily have multiple partnerships with established or start-up tech firms to fasten its research progress. California is pretty much the New York City on the west coast where your dreams come true, and with such opportunity there’s so much potential for success. The senior technical leader, K. Venkatesh Prasad, for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation said it best, “with so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation.” An existing example of this would be Ford’s partner-up with Microsoft producing the Ford Sync and MyFord Touch, a voice activated entertainment system and a touch screen dashboard, respectively.

As of now, the employees for this lab will be of new local recruits with some rotating from the headquarters in Dearborn. The lab is supposedly to open its advanced engineering wing in the first quarter where it will focus its efforts on seamless connectivity, cloud computing, and clean technology. It’s been said that this lab will not replace the work being done at the Dearborn headquarter nor overseas in Germany or China.

Ford’s Chief Execute Alan Mulally is scheduled to elaborate on this topic at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday.

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