Collaborative research paves the road to advances.

John Leonard
“We’re trying to be the technology radar for Ford—five, 10 or 15 years down the line,” says Alliance co-director and MIT professor of mechanical and ocean engineering John Leonard.

Founded in 1998, the Alliance has a broad focus that looks at powertrains, electrification, safety, connectivity, human wellness and business analytics. And thanks to the recent purchase of a 2011 Explorer and a 2012 Focus, that work is occurring right in Ford vehicles. “By having Ford involved in the research directly, we can create a better path to getting our results into products that help Ford and its customers,” Leonard says.

So what tech is next? He tries to keep his projects under wraps, but offers some hints. “Ford has been a leader in technology for connectivity in the car, most notably with the SYNC® system,” Leonard says. “We’re doing projects—aimed to be several years into the future—to predict how SYNC might evolve. We want to continue to make cars safer and create a better user experience through connectivity.”

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