DETROIT – Waymo announced Tuesday it will retrofit self-driving vehicles at the American Axle & Manufacturing campus in Detroit. Waymo is owned by Alphabet, which also owns Google.
Waymo will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose the existing facility, which was most recently used as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier.
Waymo hopes to move into the factory by mid-2019 and begin preparing the site for manufacturing Level 4 autonomous vehicles that handle all of the driving under certain conditions.
The California-based company will spend $13.6 million on the new facility, and hire as many as 400 people. But Waymo doesn’t build its own cars. Instead, it retrofits cars made by its fleet partners Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover with computers and sensors that allow the car to drive itself under most road conditions. Waymo began commercializing its technology last year, when it rolled out a public robotaxi service in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area.
The company already has a small operation in Novi, where it employs about 20 people.
“By choosing to establish its new facility in Detroit, Waymo is continuing the city’s momentum and further cementing Michigan as a leader in mobility and the epicenter of advanced automotive manufacturing,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.
The MEDC approved an $8 million grant for the project in January.