FCA Provides Waymo More Pacificas

Jan 31, 2018, 04:31
FCA Provides Waymo More Pacificas

The auto unit of Google parent Alphabet has made a deal to purchase thousands more minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles equipped for autonomous driving, the companies said.

The uptick in Pacifica Hybrid minivans will further Waymo's goal of launching the world's first self-driving, ride-hailing service, according to the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker.

This year in Phoenix, Waymo plans to launch its service. Google's self-driving vehicle unit, Waymo, is ordering thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

The vehicles will be equipped with Waymo's suite of self-driving hardware and software. The company is also performing public road tests in 25 cities, including San Francisco, metro Detroit, and most recently, Atlanta.

FCA says this first-of-its-kind collaboration with Waymo engineers enabled the teams to design a self-driving vehicle built on a mass production platform. In 2017, 500 self-driving Pacifica Hybrid minivans were delivered to Waymo by FCA.

Waymo already turned 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans into self-driving vehicles, but apparently, those aren't enough for the company's upcoming taxi service.

The hybrid powertrain makes an ideal vehicle to adapt Waymo's self-driving technology, including high-powered computers and lidar, which uses lasers to "see" what is around the auto. "Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology", Marchionne added in their statement.

With drivers, Waymo achieved a landmark as the first so-called "Level 4" autonomous vehicles, which may operate without drivers in limited geographical regions. Waymo is building the most experienced driver with over 4 million miles driven on public roads across 25 US cities, and billions of miles of simulation testing each year. The companies co-staff a facility in MI, near FCA's U.S. headquarters, to engineer the vehicles.

The two companies first announced an alliance in late 2016, the Silicon Valley spin-off acquiring 100 of the plug-in hybrid vans to use in a pilot ride-sharing research project in the Phoenix area. Once they are delivered, these self-driving minivans will be tested in multiple cities.

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