Google building self-driving vehicle test facility in Michigan
Autonomous minivan development will take place in Detroit suburbs.
In a move that's symbolic of the convergence between the Silicon Valley and Detroit branches of the auto industry, the tech giant announced Wednesday it is establishing a self-driving technology development center in Novi, Michigan, a suburb on the northwest fringes of the greater Detroit area.
"For the past few years, members of our team have been working from the great Detroit area," the company said in a statement. "Now it's time to lay down roots. ... Many of our current partners are based here, so having a local facility will help us collaborate more easily and access Michigan's top talent in vehicle development and engineering."
The new facility will be roughly 53,000 square feet in size.
One of the first projects that will be housed in the building will be the development of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Last month, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a partnership to develop 100 of the prototypes.
Google says it will begin moving into the facility, seen in the picture above in its formative stage, later this year.
It's not immediately clear whether – or when – Google and Chrysler will test the vehicles on public roads. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that permit public testing. Google already tests vehicles around its headquarters in Mountain View, California; Kirkland, Washington; Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona.
Michigan is already home to one autonomous and connected-car test facility. More than a dozen automakers and suppliers test vehicles at Mcity, a test track that opened last year on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. Federal officials and state economic development leaders have further discussed opening a high-speed autonomous test track on the site of a former General Motors factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
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