Uber to build autonomous-vehicle research center in Michigan

That's a good step for Uber, considering Michigan recently opened the floodgates on self-driving development and deployment.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

Michigan is the new hot spot for autonomous vehicle development, and Uber is ready to jump on the bandwagon with a new research center.

Uber will open an autonomous-vehicle research center in Wixom, Michigan, by the end of March, the company said at the Automotive News World Congress symposium. It will be using an existing structure on Cartier Drive, instead of building something from the ground up, to speed up its arrival.

Self-Driving Uber XC90s
Enlarge Image
Self-Driving Uber XC90s

After California told Uber it couldn't just do whatever it wanted without applying for the right permits, Uber took its toys and went to a different sandbox.


Fox 2 Detroit claims that Uber's investment in Wixom will create approximately 120 jobs, which is better than nothing. The company reportedly chose Wixom because of its proximity to research universities and other companies in the auto industry.

Michigan is really the place to be when it comes to developing self-driving cars. Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation that puts Michigan at the forefront of autonomous development and testing. It's now legal to test and use self-driving (and completely driverless) cars on public roads, and the state also legalized truck platoons and autonomous ride-sharing efforts.

It was such a strong introduction to autonomous development that General Motors quickly announced its intention to develop and build autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EVs in Michigan.

If there's one thing Uber could use right now, it's a state that's willing to put up with its insistence to hustle through the development stage. Uber recently brought a fleet of self-driving Volvo XC90s to California, only to move them all to Arizona after The Golden State pointed out that Uber basically ignored regulations.

Arizona's autonomous legislation is less comprehensive than Michigan's, so those Uber-branded XC90s might be rolling down Woodward Avenue in the near future.