Google eyeing Michigan for autonomous vehicle lab

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Google is searching for real estate in Michigan to open an autonomous vehicle research and development lab. The company wants a site with at least 30,000 square feet of space. The new office could be an early step toward the tech giant beginning driverless tests in the Mitten State. It already looked at places near Detroit in Southfield, Troy, and Farmington Hills, according to Automotive News citing a Crain's Detroit Business report.

Google may broaden its autonomous vehicle testing to Ann Arbor, MI, which might be part of the reason for opening this new lab. The tech giant already experiments with driverless cars in Mountain View, CA, and Austin, TX, but Ann Arbor could offer some advantages. The company's rumored autonomous ridesharing business reportedly wants to start in a confined area like a college campus. The city is not only home to the University of Michigan but also to MCity – a 32-acre site specifically for autonomous development.

Google has big ambitions for its autonomous vehicle unit. The company is currently hiring at least 36 people to develop the next-gen tech and work out issues like NVH and reliability. Reports also hint the tech giant wants to spin off the driverless vehicle division into a separate business sometime this year, and new operations goal would be to build an autonomous ridesharing service to challenge Uber.

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