Google has revealed that it is setting up a facility in the Greater Detroit area that will focus on the development of self-driving car technology.
The facility, which will be in Novi, Michigan, will cover a space of 53,000 square feet. The structure is currently still a blank white canvas, but Google said that it will be moving into the space within the year.
According to a Google+ post by the Google Self-Driving Car Project, the decision to establish the facility was spurred by the fact that many of the project’s partners are based in Michigan. A local office will simplify the collaboration between Google and its partners in the area, while also gaining access to the top vehicle development talent that Michigan is known for.
Google has previously said that it is not necessarily interested in being involved in the production of a vehicle, but the establishment of the facility hints that the company is more interested in the manufacturing process than previously thought.
The location of the structure is near Mcity, a facility in Ann Arbor for testing self-driving cars. Being near the Detroit’s automakers could also allow Google to poach top talent from these companies, especially with engineers perhaps looking to jump ship because of the dire financial situation of most of these car manufacturers.
One of the first tasks of the facility, once it is up and running, is to prepare Google’s fleet of Chrysler Pacifica self-driving hybrid minivans. Google and Chrysler just recently made the partnership official, with Google’s driverless car technology being prepared to be included in the 2017 model of the Chrysler Pacifica.
Chrysler is expected to manufacture 100 of these self-driving Pacifica minivans and have them hit the road before the year ends, with the vehicles to be first deployed in Mountain View along with other testing sites to be selected by Google.