Ford Silicon Valley has a new R&D site to accelerate self-driving cars

Posted on 26 Jan 2015 by Tim Brown

Ford has opened a new R&D center in Palo Alto with the aim of accelerating the company’s innovation in connectivity, autonomous vehicles and big data.

“At Ford, we view ourselves as both a mobility and an auto company, as we drive innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO.

“This new research center shows Ford’s commitment to be part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem – anticipating customers’ wants and needs, especially on connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. We are working to make these new technologies accessible to everyone, not just luxury customers.”

The Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

With the new Ford Silicon Valley 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. Located in Stanford Research Park, the facility also expands Ford’s physical footprint – with further expansion planned in the near future. Ford opened its first Silicon Valley office in 2012.

Leading the new Ford Silicon Valley research center is Dragos Maciuca, an engineer who joins Ford from Apple with a background in consumer electronics, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace and automotive. As senior technical leader for innovation, Maciuca brings extensive Silicon Valley experience advising startups, developing and commercializing products, collaborating with universities and leading cross-functional teams. Maciuca holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from its Haas School of Business.

Innovation in practice at Ford Silicon Valley

Earlier this month, the company introduced Ford Smart Mobility at the 2015 International CES. It outlines Ford’s plans to accelerate innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. The Ford Silicon Valley team plays a critical role in research and development in these areas.

“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.”

At today’s opening event, Ford offered a sneak peek at some of its projects in key areas, including: