Smart Vehicles in a Smart World: Opportunities for Research, Practice and Education

K. Venkatesh Prasad, Ph.D.
Senior Technical Leader, Mobility & Member of Ford Technology Advisory Board
Ford Motor Company


As human intelligence, imagination & ingenuity continue to advance our understanding of the physical world and create machine intelligence, we have new ways to serve the mobility needs of humanity and to transport goods. With a world population of about 7.6 billion and immense human and machine intelligence at our disposal, we have the opportunity to create novel experiences and related services associated with traveling from “A” to “B.” Automobiles are getting “smart” in numerous ways and, at the same time, the world around is also getting “smart.” In this talk, we shall outline some key opportunities for research, education and practice and related innovation, in the context of our mobility needs.

About the Speaker:

K. Venkatesh Prasad is the Senior Technical Leader for Mobility and a member of the Ford Technology Advisory Board for Open Innovation. Prior to this role, he was Ford’s Global Innovation Implementation Leader, Vehicle Components & Systems Engineering and during a 3-year period help establish eight makerspaces for employee-innovation across global engineering centers. In the earlier years, Prasad applied computer vision, based on early CMOS cameras, to several automobile applications including automatic headlamp detection. In 2011, Prasad architected OpenXC, the industry’s first open-source hardware and open-source software platform, an “innovator’s toolkit,” which launched in 2013 and today is one of the tools used by Ford employee-innovators to design, test and release products and by researchers and experimenters the world over. He also co-founded Ford’s startup-lab in 2012 as a 5-person office; a year later, it scaled to become Ford’s Innovation Center Palo Alto and today is a 150-person operation. Prasad earned a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University in 1990, an M.S. from Washington State University, and engineering degrees from IIT-Madras and NIT-Trichy in India. He has more than 25 years of collaborative experience with universities, startups, automotive suppliers and technology firms. He has co-edited three issues of the Proceedings of the IEEE (on Automotive Technologies; Aerospace and Automotive Software and Cyber-Physical Systems). Prior to coming to Dearborn, Michigan, in 1996, Prasad worked in Menlo Park, California (at Ricoh Innovations) and before that in Pasadena, California (at Caltech and, as a faculty affiliate, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).