Iconic car manufacturer Ford Motor Company has announced plan to open a research and development centre in California’s Silicon Valley, the heart of the information technology industry.
The company hopes to build partnerships with Silicon Valley companies in order to exploit new technologies including "seamless connectivity" and "cloud computing".
"Our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation for a better mobility experience," said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation.
One of the key focus areas for the new lab will making data from the sensors inside Ford’s cars available to third parties. This year, Ford plans to launch OpenXC, an "API for your car", that "will allow developers to access key vehicle data in order to innovate cloud-based apps and services."
The company pointed to weather information website Weather Underground, which is looking at ways to incorporate data from windscreen wipers into its service.
Ford’s plan reflects the growing integration of information technology into automobiles. Last month, French car maker Renault unveiled plans to embedded a tablet-like touch screen interface into its vehicles, with an ecosystem of applications that drivers can download from the "R Store".
Earlier in the year, Japanese manufacturer Toyota announced a private social network for its customers called "Toyota Friend" in partnership with Salesforce.com. The site allows the cars to "communicate" performance and service information with their owners, and gives Toyota closer contact with its customers.