It looks like Ford is making a big leap into the autonomous vehicle game, as the automaker recently announced the opening of its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. The center will employ a total of 125 researchers, engineers, and scientists, all of whom will be working to help Ford accelerate its development of technologies and experiments in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. Ford’s goal? To make autonomous cars accessible to everyone – not just luxury vehicle owners.

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“At Ford, we view ourselves as both a mobility and an auto company, as we drive innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “This new research center 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.”

Related: Google seeks automakers’ help to get autonomous cars on the road

Ford’s research and development of autonomous vehicles is already being conducted with the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but the Palo Alto team is set to expand the research with Stanford University. The new facility is part of Ford’s research alliance with Stanford University, and as such is located in Stanford Research Park.

For this next phase of research, Ford is contributing a Fusion Autonomous Research Vehicle to the Stanford engineering program to begin testing the path planning and prediction algorithms researchers have developed over the past year.

Ford also hopes that the new research facility in Palo Alto will further existing relationships between Ford and San Francisco Bay Area technology companies.

+ Ford

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