Last week we talked about Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. heading to Israel to look for new technology for the autonomous auto, AI, and cybersecurity markets. A new report says that Ford has decided that it will open a new Ford Innovation Center in Israel in June that will operate alongside the Ford AI subsidiary in the country called SAIPS. Reports indicate that a Ford spokesperson has stated that the automaker will hold an event in Tel Aviv on June 12 where more information on the Ford Innovation Center will be offered.
Word of the Ford Innovation Center comes from a source cited by Calcalistech who claims to be familiar with Ford’s plans. The automaker has a Ford Innovation Center in Isreal through SAIPS AC Ltd, the automakers wholly-owned subsidiary purchased in 2016 that focuses on computer vision and machine learning. Ford invested $12.5 million into SAIPS in 2018 to fund a unit explicitly focusing on decision-making systems for autonomous vehicles.
Israel is a hotbed for automaker investment with several major automakers operating innovation centers within the country. The largest R&D center in the country is operated by GM and was established in 2008. GM’s center reportedly has several hundred workers. Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW AG, and VW all have R&D centers in the country.
It’s not clear at this time what the new Ford Innovation Center will focus on. Bill Ford Jr. was reportedly in Israel this month along with Ford executives looking at technology from an Israeli company called Karamba Security Ltd. Ford is pushing hard into the autonomous automotive industry despite CEO Jim Hackett having stated that the automaker had overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles. Ford plans to have 100 autonomous cars in testing on roads around the U.S. this year. It’s unclear if the new Ford Innovation Center will focus on tech to push autonomous autos further.