Waymo picks Detroit factory to build self-driving cars

Waymo, the self-driving vehicle technology startup under Alphabet, is setting up shop in a Detroit factory on American Axle & Manufacturing’s campus.

Waymo said Tuesday it will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose the existing facility, which was most recently used as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier. The goal is to begin moving into the facility by mid-2019 and begin preparing the site for manufacturing Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Level 4 is a designation by SAE that means the vehicle handles all of the driving under certain conditions.

“By choosing to establish its new facility in Detroit, Waymo is continuing the city’s momentum and further cementing Michigan as a leader in mobility and the epicenter of advanced automotive manufacturing,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

In January, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation voted to approve Waymo’s plan to set up a manufacturing facility in the state to build its self-driving vehicles. The MEDC approved an $8 million grant for the project.

Waymo has partnered with Magna to build thousands of self-driving cars at the factory, including autonomous versions of the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, in a bid to deploy its ride-hailing service at scale.

In December, Waymo launched a limited commercial robotaxi service in the Phoenix area, dubbed Waymo One.

The Waymo One self-driving car service, and accompanying app, still has Waymo-trained test drivers behind the wheel. The safety driver will eventually be removed from the vehicle. The service has slowly opened up to more people.

You can now take your Amazon returns to all Kohl’s stores

It’s one thing to be able to get everything delivered to your doorstep, it’s another to then have to actually have to leave your home, brace the elements and return those things that just didn’t work out (or work at all). Typically, that means a run to your local FedEx or UPS store. For the last two years, Amazon and department store chain Kohl’s had a limited partnership that allowed you to bring your return to 100 Kohl’s stores across the country. Today, the two companies announced that they’d expand this program to all 1,150 Kohl’s locations in the U.S.

Only last month, Kohl’s and Amazon also announced that the store would start carrying Amazon products in about 200 of its stores. In a few stores, Kohl’s also features a special “Amazon Smart Home Experience.” If Amazon ever bought Kohl’s, nobody would be all that surprised, I guess.

One nice feature of this program is that the returns are free and nobody will ask you why you returned an item. These regretful Amazon purchases also don’t have to be packaged. Kohl’s employees will handle all that for you.

What’s in it for Kohl’s? As people walk into Kohl’s to return the Bluetooth speaker they finally decided they really didn’t need, they’ll not only become familiar with the brand but maybe pick up a shirt or an Amazon Echo, too. Since it started taking Amazon returns, foot traffic to the stores that participated in its test is up and revenue in those stores increased as well (and well beyond what the company experienced in other stores), so this concept seems to be working out alright for Kohl’s.