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Google establishes self-driving tech development center in Michigan

Maybe Palo Alto won't in fact become the center of the automotive tech universe after all.

Google announced Wednesday morning that it is establishing an autonomous driving technology development center in Novi, Michigan.

The center, which will be located in the greater Detroit area, will make recent collaborations — like that with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) — easier. 

At the 53,000 square-foot facility, Google engineers will work with local partners to develop and refine autonomous tech. The team's first job will be to develop the sensors and software for the 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans acquired as a part of the FCA deal.

The tech giant hopes to have at least a few of the 100 autonomous minivans completed by the end of this year. Once the fleet is fully assembled completed, it will virtually double Google's self-driving convoy.

Although Google is publicly partnered with only FCA at the moment, this newly founded center likely indicates it is interested in partnering with hometown carmakers Ford and GM as well. Or, at least, Google aims to get under their skin by rolling some of its autonomous cars past their headquarters.

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