Google to work with Ford on Detroit research center –

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. announced on Friday that Google is joining the automaker’s efforts to transform a once dilapidated Detroit train station into a research center focused on electric and autonomous vehicles.

In addition, Detroit and the State of Michigan have agreed to provide infrastructure and other support to the Michigan Central Innovation District, which will include the old train depot and other nearby buildings in historic Corktown. , just outside the city center, officials said.

“Together is another sign that we’re moving forward in a way that shows Michigan is on the path to winning, that we’re going to lead in mobility, that we’re serious about building jobs high-tech and highly skilled,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said at an event inside the old train station.

Ford announced plans for the Michigan Central Innovation District in 2018, shortly after purchasing the 18-story, 500,000-square-foot (46,450-square-meter) train depot. Renovations to Michigan’s more than century-old Central Station could be completed by next year, Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Co. Fund, told The Associated Press. Ford plans to research, test and launch new mobility solutions there.

The station, which towers over Corktown, has stood empty since the last train departed in 1988 and has come to symbolize Detroit’s long decline from American manufacturing powerhouse to its greatest municipal bankruptcy.

“I was sick of walking past this building all the time and making it the poster child for Detroit’s decadence,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., told attendees at Friday’s event. . “And I wanted to do something about it, and we’re now, I think, turning that from a national punchline into a national treasure.”

The state will provide more than $126 million in programs and resources, including infrastructure. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s office is working to designate a transportation innovation zone in the district, with the goal of enabling small businesses and entrepreneurs to start and test projects safely.

“The day we opened Ford Field (home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions), I said to Bill (Ford), you’ll never do more for the future of the city than what you’ve done here today. today,” Duggan said. “Have I ever been wrong. What’s happening here eclipses anything we’ve seen.

Google, which has more than 600 employees in Michigan, will open a lab on the 30-acre (12-hectare) site to teach computer science to high school students. Google’s role includes a certification program.

“It’s a partnership where Google would train people and Ford would, obviously, accept people who have that kind of certification in our future state,” Culler said, noting that people wouldn’t need a college degree.

Google’s job is to make sure people have the digital skills and coaching they need to succeed, said Ruth Porat, its chief financial officer.

“Michigan was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution,” Porat said. “Now the world is in the midst of a digital revolution, and Michigan is at the forefront of tackling the big issues of the day. We believe this is the right time and place to really create this kind of digital skills effort.

The automotive industry as a whole is moving towards more fully electric and hybrid propulsion systems, more autonomous driving features and increased connectivity in vehicles.

Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 and for decades was a Detroit gem and hub for rail transportation to and from the city. Detroit-made vehicles—as well as air travel—contributed to its downfall.

Bill Ford didn’t say how much it would cost to buy the station from billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun or how much the automaker plans to spend to fix it, though the company said the total investment was around $950. million dollars for the station and surrounding neighborhood. .

The company wants the Innovation District to be a big part of the city’s direction from here.

“Innovation breeds innovation,” Culler said. “The more we are at the forefront of this innovation and the more we see what others are doing, the more it will improve everyone’s game. And I think it’s going to be a game changer for the city, state and region.

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