Ford grows Silicon Valley research office

PALO ALTO — Ford is expanding its presence in Silicon Valley.

The car-making giant announced Thursday that it is opening a new research center in Palo Alto. The center will focus on autonomous vehicles, using big data techniques to glean information about customers use their vehicles and connecting cars to the Internet and other devices.

“We want to be viewed as part of the ecosystem here in the Valley,” Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO, said at an event here.

The company plans for about 125 employees to eventually work out of the center. That would give Ford one of the largest auto industry research teams in Silicon Valley, Fields said. The team will be headed by Dragos Maciuca, who was formerly at Ford.

The center will augment Ford’s current research presence here. The company established an 8-person research team about three years ago.

Ford is already working on several local research projects. The company has teamed up with Stanford on developing autonomous vehicles and with Carnegie Mellon University-Silicon Valley to improve speech recognition for use in interacting with cars’ infotainment systems.

Photo of Raj Nair, Mark Fields, and Ken Washington, Ford’s chief technology officer, CEO, and vice president of research and advanced engineering, respectively, at Thursday’s event in Palo Alto (Troy Wolverton/Mercury News).


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