American automaker Ford announced this morning that it will open a dedicated research lab in Silicon Valley, its first, in the first quarter of 2012.
The announcement comes on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where the world's biggest automakers are expected to debut new products and technologies.
Ford says its goal is to bring down the cost of automotive technology, such as the Dearborn, Mich.-based company's SYNC infotainment system, EcoBoost fuel technology, MyKey remote connectivity and in-vehicle safety features.
As such, mobility will be a major focus, specifically around Internet connectivity, cloud computing and fuel efficiency. Autonomous vehicles, sensing systems and energy storage are also on the drawing board.
The lab will be under the jurisdiction of Ford's Research and Innovation team and will be located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company made sure to note nearby neighbors IDEO, the design firm; Stanford University; social network Facebook; microprocessing giant Intel; networking giant Cisco; and Google.
Unsurprisingly, partner Microsoft, located nearby but headquartered to the north in Redmond, Wash., will be invited to collaborate. Ford hopes that it can build out an "innovation network" that stretches from its design studio in Irvine all the way up the West Coast.
Senior technical leader K. Venkatesh Prasad will "shape the lab" and employees will be recruited both locally and internally. It's intended to complement, not replace, Ford's existing R&D facilities in Dearborn; Aachen, Germany; and Nanjing, China.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com