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Uber is coming to Detroit, possibly to test its self-driving cars

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Max Jeffrey

Uber is planning on opening a new facility in Detroit, aka Motor City, which appears to be geared toward growing the ride-hail company’s self-driving car efforts. The news of the new engineering space comes a few days after Uber rolled out its driverless cars in Pittsburgh for a limited public test.

Sherif Marakby, Uber’s new vice president of global vehicle programs, told Automotive News that the facility would allow the ride-hail startup a chance to work with automakers in the area to develop and modify its autonomous fleet. He also confirmed that the company is working closely with city and state officials on its plans.

An Uber spokesperson wouldn’t confirm any details about the new facility, or the possibility of autonomous testing in Detroit, beyond saying the company is “planning to open an office in the Detroit area in the coming months.”

In addition to Pittsburgh, the company has plans to open engineering facilities in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Uber also has a partnership with the University of Arizona to develop self-driving technology.

And they’re not alone in pursuing autonomous vehicles: Ford said that it would begin offering rides in self-driving cars to its employees at its Dearborn, Michigan-based campus. And General Motors, which is teamed up with Uber’s ride-hail rival Lyft, is testing its driverless cars in San Francisco and Phoenix.

Marakby, who previously worked as the director of global electronics and engineering at Ford, was hired by Uber specifically to work on self-driving cars. So it seems like a safe bet that residents will see Uber’s tricked-out driverless vehicles roaming the streets of Detroit in the not-so-distant future.