Porsche announced today they would be opening an office in Silicon Valley. According to the press release, the mandate of the office, which will initially be about 100 staff, is to:
recognize digitalization strategies and trends in the U.S. market more quickly and to be able to develop and test solutions for Porsche – making its proximity to technology enterprises and start-ups of particular importance. The office will focus on the topics of digitalization, connectivity, and smart mobility.
It appears Porsche will also be looking to acquire or invest in new companies.
While Porsche has thus far dismissed fully self-driving Porsches anytime soon, CEO Oliver Bloom did note use-case scenarios a few months ago that appear to suggest support for semi-autonomous Porsches:
“At the moment we do not think about a full version of robotic driving, we are thinking about features to combine with the real Porsche genes, so at the end you still have a real Porsche. For example, when you are going to work in the morning and you are in a traffic jam, there is a possibility to read the newspaper. When you go to a restaurant and you cannot find somewhere to park, the car will find somewhere to park itself and then fetch you after you leave the restaurant.
Their forthcoming Silicon Valley office appears to be tapped to either acquire directly, or through partnership, the technologies needed to bring this vision to fruition.
The announcement highlights the growing importance of Silicon Valley in defining the future of self-driving vehicles as well as defining the broader future of personal transportation. It also suggests that over the last decade Silicon Valley has amassed a critical level of talent in self-driving technologies and become an important nexus in defining the future of self-driving vehicles.
This is no small footnote. As much as self-driving vehicles could define the next 50 years of transportation, Silicon Valley appears to be positioned to be a major force in that transformation.