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Google to open self-driving R&D center near Detroit, will focus on Chrysler partnership

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Google today announced that it will open a self-driving car technology development center in Novi, Michigan, which is about 30 miles outside of Detroit. Google has had teams working from Detroit for the past few years, but this marks the company’s first physical presence in the area.

Google’s self-driving car project head John Krafcik made the announcement on the team’s Google+ page. Krafcik explained that having a physical presence will allow the Google’s self-driving team to better collaborate and take advantage of the rich vehicle talent pool that’s located in Michigan. So in other words, other companies should watch out because Google is looking to poach some team members.

Google will open a 53,000-square-feet development center in Novi that’s first goal will be to “ready” the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Google will work with local partners to do this, it says. Google first announced its partnership with Chrysler earlier this month.

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. At this 53,000 sq ft development center, our engineers, working with local partners, will further develop and refine self-driving technology. One of the first tasks will be to ready our self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.

Google will begin moving in to the new development space this year, but there’s not much there yet, so it will be awhile before everything is up and fully functional. Earlier this month, Google published its self-driving car report for April and noted of two minor accidents — neither of which were Google’s fault. Google also noted that it had 23 total Lexus vehicles and 34 prototypes on the road.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller


Chance currently writes for both 9to5Google and 9to5Mac, in addition to 9to5Toys.