Michigan State University helps the Blue Oval drive towards the future.
The Ford Motor Company is betting at least as much on autonomous vehicles as any other automaker in the industry. But it's not going it alone. Instead it's going back to school to learn some new lessons. And fortunately its commute won't be very far.
The American automaker has signed an extended and expanded partnership with Michigan State University to jointly research and develop next-generation technologies. The two will focus on a wide array of areas, including self-driving systems, alternative mobility solutions, sensors, and lightweight materials – all of which stand to revolutionize the automobile in the coming years.
MSU and Ford have been working together since 2014, encompassing to date over 50 projects in fields as varied as advanced powertrains, construction materials, and electrification. But this latest arrangement will bring the two even closer and into a broader range of transport technologies.
"No company – no matter how large or vertically integrated – has the internal resources to lead in all important technical areas," said Ford's external-alliance manager Ed Krause. "Partnering with leading research universities like Michigan State is an important part of Ford's strategy to access world-class external talent."
The partnership will see Ford's own researchers collaborate with students and faculty through the MSU Innovation Center, which expands the university's sphere of influence far beyond the classroom and academia. "This is a leading example of collaboration between industry and academia that demonstrates how MSU partnerships can both advance research and help develop innovative global solutions," said MSU's Charles Hasemann.
The home of the Spartans isn't the only institute of higher education with which Ford has collaborated. It's also partnered with the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, UC Berkeley, Ohio State, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT on similar initiatives, and likely will with more in the future.