Just last week, Uber debuted their self-driving Ford Fusions on the roads of Pittsburgh. These aren't being tested out on a test track. Instead these are on public roads, and transporting actual Uber customers from point A to point B. It was a bit of a surprise for Uber to use Pittsburgh as their test bed for these autonomous vehicles, but that is where their Advanced Technologies Campus is located, and where they've been testing these vehicles before putting them on public roads. However, now the company is looking to expand and are planning a new facility. This time, it's in the metro Detroit area.
Putting a facility for self-driving cars in Detroit isn't that big of a surprise. After all, Detroit is the "Motor City" with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all based here. On top of that, Ford is their premiere partner right now for their self-driving cars. In fact, they are only using Ford Fusions right now, but that may change in the future. The reason for Uber opening a facility in metro Detroit is to be closer to their partners. Now that may sound familiar. And that's because Alphabet is opening their own facility for their self-driving car in Novi – a few miles north of Detroit – and that was so that they could be closer to their partners, which right now only includes Fiat Chrysler.
Uber hasn't said where this facility will located, other than in the Detroit area. They are still finalizing the details on the lease for the area they are looking to use. It's likely that Uber's vice president Sherif Marakby, will be heading to metro Detroit once this new facility is up and running. He's been located at Uber's Pittsburgh research facility since joining the company. Prior to this, he worked at Ford for 25 years, out of their world headquarters in Dearborn, which is not far from Detroit either. The company hasn't yet shared any details on what the facility will do, but it is fairly likely to be used for self-driving cars. Additionally, the number of employees that will be stationed here. However, Marakby did reiterate that Uber is not in the "business of making cars".
Much like Alphabet, Uber is looking to partner with auto makers and use their software for self-driving cars. As they have done with Ford already (and Alphabet with Lexus and now Chrysler).