Ford’s had a presence in Silicon Valley since 2012, but the automaker recently opened a new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto’s Stanford Research Park. The new facility will enable the company to grow its global research team and accelerate initiatives being undertaken in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.
As part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem, Ford feeds off of the community to better anticipate customers wants and needs with regard to connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. “Working together with the Silicon Valley research community will spark the new ideas, products and services that will help Ford once again change the way the world moves,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s research and advanced engineering VP.
Leading the new research center is Dragos Maciuca, an engineer who joins Ford from Apple with a background in consumer electronics, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace and automotive. Maciuca, who holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California Berkeley and an MBA from its Haas School of Business, brings extensive Silicon Valley experience advising startups, developing and commercializing products, collaborating with universities and leading cross-functional teams. His official title is ‘senior technical leader for innovation’.
The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins two other research and innovation centers in the Ford roster. The company has a location at its headquarters in Dearborn, that focuses on advanced electronics, HMI, materials science, big data and analytics; and other near its European office in Germany that focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.
“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.”
With the new facility, Ford expects to have one of the largest automotive manufacturer research centers in Silicon Valley by the end of the year, with 125 researchers, engineers and scientists. Further expansion is already being planned.