Waymo Announces Major Expansion In Michigan

Waymo, a California-Based self-driving technology development company  for vehicles has announced it will be building a 200,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Michigan which has always been thought of as the bedrock state of the US automobile industry.

Waymo received approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and plans to hire around 400 employees by 2025 as it seeks to expand its manufacturing of self-driving cars, also referred to as autonomous vehicles.

The Detroit News reported that an $8 million incentive from MEDC will be given to Waymo only after it exceeds the minimum of creating 100 new jobs and exceeds creating 400 new jobs by 2005.  They also reported Waymo will be investing $13.6 million in the facility.

According to the MEDC deal, the Waymo facility will need to be up and operating with 100 new employees by 2021. The company is planning on hiring engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators.

Jeremy Webb, senior business development project manager at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. says Waymo is looking at and in talks with a few sites in the following counties: Macomb, Oakland or Wayne, but has signed no leases at this time.  

According to a Waymo blog post, “this facility will be the world’s first factory 100% dedicated to the mass production of [level 4] autonomous vehicles.”

Waymo only designs and makes the hardware and software that eventually controls the vehicle to drive autonomously.

Currently, Waymo works with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where FCA’s Pacifica minivans are manufactured to fit with Waymo’s hardware and software. Then the minivans are shipped to Novi, Michigan where they are outfitted with Waymo’s technology such as perception software, cameras, sensors, and other equipment that enables them to drive autonomously

The company has deals in the works to purchase more FCA Pacifica minivans and with Jaguar Land Rover’s Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs.

Waymo has developed its self driving technology for the use of ride-hailing/sharing, trucking and logistics, urban public transportationand for passenger cars. According to Wikipedia, Waymo is also, “considering licensing its autonomous technology to vehicle manufacturers.”

Waymo has been in the news as a ride-hail EV or self-driving taxi service in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Users use an app to request the self-driving taxi service.

Waymo is an offshoot of Google’s parent company, Alphabet and was founded 10 years ago on January 17, 2009 and the first autonomous vehicle was called Firefly which was changed to Waymo in 2016.

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