In another sign that the automotive and technology industries are getting closer, Ford has announced a new Research and Development Centre in Silicon Valley.
Tesla are already based in northern California and use the old NUMMI plant that General Motors and Toyota established some years ago. When GM pulled out, Tesla joined Toyota. It is logical for Tesla to be in Silicon Valley as Elon Musk made one of his fortunes in the consumer technology arena.
We saw a sign this year at the Consumer Electronics Show where several manufacturers dominated the media. Mercedes showed off a prototype whilst Audi “drove” their car to the venue. I use quotes as the car did all the work being pilotless – Mercedes had a non functioning example. Google also had a car at the show. Several other manufacturers showcased their in-car technologies that are now rapidly morphing into tablet sized devices and in-car entertainment is finally becoming a connection rather than a unique device.
So it is logical that with the increased cross-over of technology and sharing of apps between cars and tablets/phones, the manufacturers would utilise the resources in California to speed up development and bring more consumer focused ideas to the auto landscape.
Northern California is full of commercial and consumer driven technology companies as well as Berkeley (the home of the UNIX operating system) and Stanford Universities. Every company and education campus would love to get their ideas into a car! There are so many parts to today’s technology that could be used by a vehicle with better data management, reporting or even online diagnostics. Long gone are the days when everything was mechanical.
I also see benefits for the technology companies as well. I have seen too many apps that were released before they were properly tested and this cannot happen with technology that manages a vehicle. So the car manufacturers can re-instruct (or teach) developers how to test their software to the extreme!