In a move that signifies us moving ever closer to the 'connected car', Ford Motor Company has opened a new research centre in California's Silicon Valley to aid in the development of technologies that will herald the next step change in automotive evolution.
The new Ford facility is in Palo Alto, the centre of Silicon Valley, where the automaker's neighbours will be tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and many others. It is the 'startup heartland' of the world.
The Ford Research and Innovations Center (sic) has been developed in partnership with Stanford University.
Speaking at the centre's opening, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said, "This new research centre 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.”
Palo Alto joins Ford's global R&D network, which includes sites like Ford Australia's proving grounds near Geelong.
The development in Palo Alto will focus on emerging technologies, both under the bonnet and behind the wheel. Autonomous driving, human interface design, mobile connectivity and the next generation of powertrains are all facets of future Ford development that will be spearheaded by the site.
One project discussed by Ford executives at the Silicon Valley facility opening, is a connection between your car and home - the vehicle communicating with your thermostat to manage energy use when there is no one there, or to prep the heating or cooling when you are on your way home.
Ford Australia will cease manufacturing cars in October 2016, but the Australian design and engineering development teams are set to continue working with Ford globally on various projects including some of these exciting new technologies.