Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced delivery of 100 specially built Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Google’s newly formed self-driving car company, Waymo.
Each van is fitted with Waymo’s self-driving technology, made up of a suit of sensors, telematics, a purpose-built computer and other systems. According to Automotive News, Waymo is planning to begin a ride-sharing service with the minivans, a service that could launch as early as 2017.
Engineering teams from Chrysler and Waymo worked together at a location in southeastern Michigan to design the vans, which have plenty of modifications, including changes to the electrical system, powertrain, chassis and structural systems. Testing took place at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds and at the brand’s Arizona Proving Grounds.
“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. “They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”
FCA is the first major automaker to strike a big deal with Google, though so far, the deal is restricted to these 100 vehicles. Plans for the future of this partnership are still unknown, though FCA seems to favor partnerships with tech companies as a way to navigate the changing automotive landscape.
“As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA. “Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”
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