Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to ship 500 more Pacifica Minivans to Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project.
Following the first batch of 100 minivans which were delivered in the second half of 2016, FCA will send more Pacificas to Waymo as the tech company launches a new ride sharing service for select members of the public in its self-driving vehicles.
Residents of Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding area will be the first members of the public to test the self-driving cars. Waymo is signing up volunteers for its “early rider program,” allowing members of the public to use the fleet of Pacificas and Lexus RX450h self-driving vehicles to get around town. This service will not cost these early riders anything, although they are expected to offer feedback on the program.
These designated testers will be able to access the vehicles as frequently as they want, with the goal being the replacement of a personal car. Although Google claims that a total of 3 million miles have been travelled by its self-driving cars, there is still a human driver in each vehicle monitoring the rides at all times.
A team of engineers from Chrysler and Waymo collaborated on the project, which requires the electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems of the van to be changed to accommodate the new self-driving technology.
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