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Waymo to develop autonomous car plant in Detroit

Waymo’s deal with American Axle and Manufacturing will include repurposing an existing facility (which currently serves as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier). The aim is to begin upgrading the facility by mid-2019, and then to have the plant ready for manufacturing Level 4 autonomous vehicles later in 2019.

In terms of autonomous vehicle development, the Level 4 is a designation indicates that an equipped vehicle can handle all of the driving – autonomously – under a given set of conditions. This is a based on set of guidelines determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to describe the differing levels of autonomy in driverless cars.

Commenting on the selection of Detroit as a base for the new autonomous car plant, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said: “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.”

Waymo indicated that it has selected Michigan for its first production facility. The Alphabet spin-off company notes that it was in line for incentives from the public-private partnership agency, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This would help the next-generation vehicle company to create up to 400 jobs over time exclusively related to self driving.

Waymo is relatively ahead of its rivals in the self-driving car space, and the firm already operates a robotaxi service in Arizona. Waymo aims to expand this taxi service geographically over time.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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