Ford invades Silicon Valley -

Automotive giant Ford is planning on opening an R&D centre in Silicon Valley in the first quarter of this year. 

The company claims its new lab, in the San Francisco Bay area, will become a hub for independent technology projects and will work with innovators nearby, including universities like Stanford. It isn't giving away too many details just yet, but says the number of employees at the lab will be "comparable to what you expect of a startup, with an emphasis on quality over quantity" - so not many, then.

Its Ford Research and Innovation group, the engineering wing, will be looking at areas like wireless connectivity, energy storage, sensing systems and autonomous vehicles. The lab will continue Ford's work in personal mobility, open source hardware and software developer kits, and its idea of the car as a sensor - using data from invidiual cars packed with sensors to feed that data elsewhere.

Ford is keen to paint itself as an innovator and will be presenting a keynote at Mobile World Congress to outline 'Ford's future vision'.

Senior technical man at Ford Research and Innovation suggested in a statement that the Silicon Valley base will be well placed for any partnerships or shopping sprees: "With so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment," he said.