US-based car manufacturer Ford Motor Company has announced that it intends to open a research lab in Silicon Valley, California, where it hopes to develop new trends for the motor industry. Ford revealed that it is to open the lab near Stanford University in Palo Alto, where it will employ around 15 people.
Some of the new employees, Ford said, will include those recruited locally and others who will rotate in from Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Explaining the move, Paul Mascarenas, Ford Chief Technical Officer, revealed that the carmaker decided about a year ago that it needed a bigger presence in Silicon Valley.
"This is a very natural extension into one of the most innovative communities in the world," he commented.
The lab, Mr Mascarenas observed, will work on ways to better integrate phones and other personal devices into cars. They will also seek to develop new safety systems that alert drivers when they are approaching another vehicle, he said.
Using the new lab facilities, Ford will be able to test applications from independent programmers. The carmaker is, for example, currently studying one app that could improve weather reporting simply by transmitting signals when a car's rain-sensing wipers are activated.
The lab will study broader issues, too, including population growth in developing countries like India, where the firm is keen to develop a strategy for managing traffic.
Although it has been confirmed that the lab will work with Ford headquarters and its design studio in Southern California, Ford's Technical Chief Officer insisted it is important that the lab is in Silicon Valley so employees feel empowered to push the boundaries of innovation.
There are, of course, already a number of leading carmakers boasting a presence in Silicon Valley, including General Motors and BMW. And given the size and influence of Ford Motor, it will be fascinating to see how the influence of the Valley manifests itself in the firm's latest innovations.