Uber to open advanced tech office in Wixom

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Uber Technologies Inc. will open an advanced technology office in Wixom during the first quarter of 2017, an executive for the ride-hailing company said Wednesday.

Sherif Marakby, vice president of global vehicle programs for Uber, said the Wixom office will serve as center to help it integrate autonomy into automakers’ vehicles. He made the announcement during the Automotive News World Congress held in conjunction with the Detroit auto show.

“Many of our engineers were coming to Detroit on day trips and visiting and working with companies,” he said. “A lot of the talent actually comes from Detroit. So it just felt like the right thing to do to actually have a place for people to work from.”

Markaby said Uber will work with Tier 1 auto suppliers who are making the hardware for autonomous vehicles and automotive manufacturers.

Uber already has hired a few people to staff the office that ultimately has capacity for 100 employees, Marakby, a former Ford Motor Co. employee of 25 years, said following his presentation at the conference for industry professionals. He expects the office will open with a “handful” of employees.

“We’ll grow from there,” he said. “We have a lot of openings.”

Uber wants to staff its Detroit area office with engineers and project program managers. He said most hired would work to integrate self-driving technology with the automakers.

The company announced in September plans to open an office in Metro Detroit. It was that month that it launched a project with about 20 self-driving Ford Fusions in Pittsburgh.

Uber also has an advanced technology group office in Pittsburgh that opened in February 2015. It now employs hundreds of people, Uber said.

mburden@detroitnews.com