Mountain View, Calif. —Ford officially opened its new Silicon Valley Lab (SVL), ready to engage the tech community in the quest for the technological progress.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford came to the spiritual home of the computer and consumer electronics industry to celebrate the grand opening of the Ford Silicon Valley Lab and to participate in the Computer History Museum’s “Revolutionaries” lecture series.
“We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” said Ford. “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.”
While Ford is strongly associated with the industrial heartland of America, the company has global reach with Research and Innovation facilities in Dearborn, Mich.; 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, chief technical officer and vice president 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.”
Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab will serve as a local touch point for the many relationships Ford already has with Bay Area technology companies and startups. Its core mission, though, is to operate as an independent lab focused on three key areas supporting the future of personal mobility:
- Big data – Ford is increasingly a data-driven company, fusing both internal and external sources to shape product and marketing offerings and support strategic decision making. In addition, vehicle data from the growing list of sensing technologies built into the car can be used locally to create a more personalized, convenient and productive driving experience, then aggregated to help address congestion and improve efficiency.
- Open-source innovation – Viewing the car as a platform and providing access to real-time data allows for the rapid development of custom hardware and software applications. Ford has extensive experience in development of on-board and off-board applications for the SYNC in-car connectivity system. Now the Silicon Valley Lab is looking at open-source development using the research platform OpenXC developed with Bug Labs.
- User experience – Information and services need to be presented to the driver in ways that don’t take away from the primary task of operating the vehicle. Ford is rethinking how drivers and passengers interact with vehicles as well as how vehicles should interact with them. Innovations in design and new technologies can help to optimally organize, filter and deliver content.
“As new ways of processing, curating and filtering information are conceived, the possibilities for enhancing personal mobility are virtually limitless,” said Venkatesh Prasad, general manager of the new lab and senior technical leader of open innovation. “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.”