Uber has settled on Wixom, Michigan as the base for its new autonomous vehicle research center, which will focus on embedding the company’s self-driving system into cars.
Michigan is one of the hottest areas for tech and auto firms trialling self-driving tech. This gives Uber easy access to several automakers that could become potential partners in the future, when the ride-hailing firm rolls out its self-driving taxis in major cities.
Uber started to look into a Michigan base of operations in September, but only finalized the location this month, according to Detroit Free Press. It has not said if it will test its self-driving vehicles on public roads in Michigan, as it does in Pittsburgh and Arizona.
“We will be focused on integrating our technology into automakers’ vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, Uber vice president of global vehicle development. “We started a few months ago on recruiting and already have engineers in Detroit to meet with Tier 1 suppliers. We’ve also had discussions with automakers.”
Uber doesn’t want to get into hardware
Uber recently said it does not want to handle the design or manufacturing of self-driving cars, instead it will use commercial vehicles, like the Ford Fusion and Volvo X90 hybrid, and embed the self-driving software.
That might work for now, but as General Motors and Ford start to spend more on building their own self-driving systems, it might be harder for Uber to establish partnerships with these huge automakers.
Michigan recently legalized self-driving cars on the road, making it one of the most progressive states on autonomous car laws. It stands in contrast to California, which recently deregistered more than a dozen of the company’s self-driving taxis from the roads for failing to submit the correct autonomous permit.
That led to the firm shipping all of its self-driving taxis from the state to Arizona, where the governor has approved of the company’s self-driving program.