Tech giant Google’s recently launched self-driving car brand 'Waymo’ is to acquire 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
The Fiat-Chrysler group confirmed that production of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, uniquely built to enable fully self-driving operations, has been completed. The vehicles are currently being outfitted with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology, including a purpose-built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics and other systems, and will join Waymo’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017.
The collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate the fully self-driving system into the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. Engineering modifications to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were implemented to optimise the minivan for Waymo’s fully self-driving technology.
“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, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo. “They've been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”
Waymo and FCA co-located part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the overall development process. In addition, 'extensive testing' was carried out at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as Waymo test sites in California.
“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, Chief Executive Officer, 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.”
Waymo shortly plans to let a group of selected people test its vehicles in everyday use, running errands, commuting to work or getting safely home after a night on the town, for example. The feedback gained during these test runs will be assessed as part of the ongoing research.