Volkswagen Group of America announced a $1.7 million investment in its automotive research partnership with Stanford University on Friday. The automaker said that the contribution will help to power next-generation research in the areas of virtual intelligence, material research, data security and vehicle dynamics. In addition, Volkswagen said the money will go towards programs that will help to educate future engineers in computer science and electromagnetical design.

"For a decade, Volkswagen Group has worked tirelessly to redefine automotive research, collaborating to identify innovations that will help shape mobility technologies for years to come," said Dr. Peter Oel, Executive Director of Volkswagen's Electronic Research Laboratory in a press release. "Through partnerships like the one with Stanford University, Volkswagen Group is actively investing in the future of automotive innovation, paving the way for the development of next-generation solutions that will transform the vehicles of tomorrow."

The $1.7 million comes after an initial investment of $5.75 million in 2009, which created the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) at Stanford. Research at VAIL has focused on autonomous cars, vehicle dynamics and safety and has resulted in some pretty remarkable projects, such as the fully autonomous Audi TTS that tackled the ridiculously daunting and dangerous Pike's Peak course in Colorado.

The investment is a relatively small part of a huge push into the North American market by the German automaker. Volkswagen has plans to pump more than $5 billion over the next three years into new products, technologies and infrastructure here.

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