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Ford opened its R&D center in Silicon Valley – here’s why


Ford Motors on Thursday opened its 25,000-square-foot Research and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley. The facility will focus on improving the company’s technology, experimental projects and development of self-driving cars.Screen-Shot-2015-01-23-at-10.45.45-PM

The company expects to have about 125 researchers, including engineers and scientists at the center located at the backyard of Stanford University. Dragos Maciuca, ex-senior engineer at Apple will head the operation of the center. The Research and Innovation Center, Palo Alto was built for the development of technologies and experiments in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

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“This new research center shows Ford’s commitment to be part of Silicon Valley Innovation system,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company CEO.

The research center will co-ordinate with Ford’s chain of innovation centers like the one located in Dearborn, Michigan that is conducting experiments on advanced electronics, materials science, human-machine ecosystem and big data analytics. The automotive company’s facility in Aachen, Germany conducts research on next-Gen powertrain, driver-assistance technologies and improved safety systems.

Ford will focus on self-driving cars and has partnered with Stanford for the research and development. One autonomous vehicle from the company will be donated to the university’s engineering department for testing of route-planning and prediction algorithm. Ken Washington, Vice President of Ford Motors describes the algorithm as the “secret-sauce” of autonomous vehicles.

Several experimental projects are being previewed at the research facility, including Google’s Nest platform for Ford cars. The platform will allow syncing vehicles to smart thermostat and automation of temperature when a person leaves home. Remote controlled golf carts on the Georgia Institute of Technology is being controlled from the research center using 4G/LTE technology.

The automotive giant hopes to partner with more universities and technology companies and continue the relationship with existing companies for creating and applying appropriate technology.

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