Foxconn to build new R&D center in Michigan focused on self-driving & AI

After announcing a new factory headed to Wisconsin last month, Foxconn today has revealed plans for a research and development plant in Michigan. According to the South China Morning Post, Foxconn’s new plant will be “multibillion-dollar” in size and scope…

Whereas the Wisconsin plant is focused on manufacturing LCD panels for TV-maker Sharp, the Michigan location will focus on more advanced research and development. Foxconn chair Terry Gou says the company is interested in self-driving technology, artificial intelligence, and deep learning technology:

“Automotive development in the U.S. is still more advanced than China,” Gou said. “Besides self-driving technology, I’m also interested in artificial intelligence and deep learning technology.”

Being in Michigan, Foxconn’s research and development plant is in the heart of the car industry, but Gou seemingly made it clear that the company is interested in more than just self-driving technology.

It’s currently unclear as to exactly how large the facility will be, as well as how many jobs it will create.

The news comes a month after Donald Trump announced that Tim Cook and Apple had agreed to build him three “big, big” factories in the United States. Since that announcement, however, Apple has been quiet on any such news, instead choosing to tout its existing investments in the United States. Some have speculated that Trump confused Apple with Foxconn, who has since announced two plants in the Untied States within in the last month.

Last month, Foxconn announced a new $10 billion LCD factory in Wisconsin. The 20,000-square-foot facility is expected to create some 3,000 jobs and be completed after three years. This factory seemingly has no relation to Apple whatsoever, instead building LCD panels for TV-maker Sharp.

The Michigan plant could have somewhat of an effect on Apple if Foxconn is able to innovate in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and self-driving systems. Tim Cook has said that Apple has a “large” project related to autonomous systems, so any advancements Foxconn can make in the area would certainly benefit Apple given their existing relationship.

We’ll have to wait and hear specific details before we speculate too much, though.


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