Last January, we told you that Ford would be opening a lab in California’s Silicon Valley
, specifically to “drive innovation in personal mobility.” Ford has recently opened the doors to its Ford Silicon Valley Lab facility, which has a mission based around three priorities: big data, open-source innovation and optimizing the user experience.
An ancillary mission of the Palo Alto lab is one of public relations, as Ford wants technology companies to view it as an open platform, accessible and ready for innovative development ideas according to Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
The ultimate goal is to make telematics and infotainment systems that are safer and more intuitive, adding to the enjoyment of driving. While the Palo Alto lab is central to many of the technology companies that Ford works with on an ongoing basis, it’s still an independent lab with a three-pronged mission.
Under the “Big Data” banner, Ford wants to find ways to implement sensor-driven data
to create a more personalized, convenient and productive driving experience. Ultimately, the data collected could be used to reduce traffic congestion and improve driving efficiency.
Open-Source Innovation views the car as a platform, with data available to be harvested in common industry formats. Using the OpenXC platform
developed by Bug Labs, Ford hopes to partner with technology companies creating both hardware and software solutions.
Finally, the User Experience needs to be delivered in such a manner that it enhances the driving experience and doesn’t detract from it. It’s hoped that advances in this area will optimize and filter information, delivering it in a more-digestible manner.
In Ford’s own words, the Ford Silicon Valley Lab team is now ready to listen, learn and even teach at its location in downtown Palo Alto. Coming from one of the world’s largest automakers, we’d say that’s a refreshing perspective.