Google plans to use the facility in the auto industry's backyard to work on self-driving minivans.
In the swiftly moving world of self-driving car development, Detroit has already come to Silicon Valley. Now Silicon Valley is coming to Detroit.
Or pretty close to Detroit, anyway. Google announced May 25 that it is setting up a facility in Novi, Mich., where it will develop the hardware and software going into autonomous vehicles — specifically, the 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to which the company has access via a partnership with Fiat Chrysler.
A company spokesperson said the new facility just outside Detroit will just be for development, not test driving. Google is already test driving its autonomous vehicles on public roads in Mountain View, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Wash.; and Phoenix.
Michigan is already home to the MCity testing grounds, a fake city where self-driving car developers can test their technology. The state is eyeing a second testing facility in Ypsilanti Township as well.
A number of other cities, counties and states are vying to attract the testing and research efforts going into developing self-driving cars, including Massachusetts, Virginia and Las Vegas.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has also reportedly been looking for a suitable location to build a larger-scale testing facility for emerging technology.
In a Google Plus post, a company writer said that the facility will allow Google to “collaborate more easily and access Michigan’s top talent in vehicle development and engineering.” Google has already partnered with Ford Motor Co. on self-driving car development.
Google said it will move into the Novi testing facility throughout 2016.