We’re learning more about the new R&D facility Google plans to open in suburban Detroit, where it will be working on its new autonomous vehicle partnership with Fiat Chrysler.
The two companies announced they were teaming up last month. They’ll be developing a fleet of self-driving 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to use for testing and it’s the first time Google’s teamed up directly with an automaker to build vehicles.
“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 company said on Google+.
The 53,000 square-foot technology facility is located in Novi, Michigan and Google plans to move into it throughout 2016.
John Krafcik, who leads Google’s car project, also tweeted about the announcement.
We’re putting down roots in Greater Detroit with a self-driving technology development center. https://t.co/5hHiplwM7H
— John Krafcik (@johnkrafcik) May 25, 2016
To date, Google has conducted 1.5 million miles of road tests on its own driverless prototypes. The addition of 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans will more than double its test fleet. The partnership benefit FCA, too. The automaker is lagging way behind when it comes to developing autonomous technology on its own.
Oh and by the way, Michigan isn’t really so far from Silicon Valley in the scheme of things. Google founder Larry Page is a native of East Lansing, Mich., and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.