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Google's Waymo to build self-driving cars near Detroit

AP Photo / Mark Lennihan.

AP Photo / Mark Lennihan.

Published Jan 23, 2019

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Detroit - Waymo on Tuesday announced that it will rev up its self-driving car production by establishing a factory devoted exclusively to mass production of autonomous vehicles in Michigan.

The company owned by Google-parent Alphabet collaborated with Michigan's economic development corporation on a plan to use a manufacturing facility in that state for integrating self-driving technology into vehicles it adds to its fleet.

Waymo already has about 20 workers based in the southeast Michigan city of Novi.

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The location of the new plant has yet to be determined, but was not expected to be too far from Motor City.

The Waymo project was to create 100 jobs, with the potential for that number to multiply as it produces vehicles capable of "level 4" autonomy on a scale where level 5 is fully autonomous without a need for human intervention.

The facility "will be the world's first factory 100 percent dedicated to the mass production of L4 autonomous vehicles," Waymo said in an online statement.

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The plant will integrate the self-driving system into the vehicles for the Waymo fleet, including from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover.

"We're laying the foundation for a scalable, robust vehicle integration plan, starting in Michigan," according to Waymo, which is partnering with the Canadian-based automotive supplier Magna to help integrate the technology into various vehicles.

"Our local engineers are already hard at work outfitting our Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with Waymo technology, and now we're looking forward to expanding our roots," the company said.

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Born in a Google lab devoted to big-vision new technology, Waymo became a subsidiary of Alphabet in 2016.

A self-driving car service being tested by Waymo opened up to more people in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, late last year.

Those taking part in the service can use a smartphone application to summon autonomous vehicles any time of day to get about in an area about 100 square miles at its maximum, according to Waymo chief John Krafcik.

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Waymo expected businesses to be interested in using the autonomous ride service to carry customers to and from shops.

The firm last year announced it was adding as many as 62 000 Chrysler minivans to its autonomous fleet in an expanded collaboration announced by the companies.

1. I love cars always have always will. 2. I loved going on top gear 3. Excited about watching new Top gear and I’m afraid 3 heterosexual men SO uncomfortable with their sexuality that they reference in some lame way a Wrangler Jeep being a Gay mans car

— Will Young (@willyoung) January 28, 2019

Agence France-Presse

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