Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) have announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration in which they will integrate Google’s autonomous vehicle technology from the company’s Self-Driving Car Project into all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, in order to expand Google’s existing self-driving test program.
The collaboration marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an auto maker to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle. The Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used later this year for Google’s self-driving testing, more than doubling the company’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles.
Engineering responsibilities will be shared based on each company’s respective expertise. FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology. Google will integrate the suite of sensors and computers that the vehicles will rely on to navigate roads autonomously. Both companies will co-locate part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the design, testing and manufacturing of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica.
Google’s self-driving cars in the test fleet have self-driven over 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km) on public roads, and are currently being tested in: Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and Phoenix, Arizona.
The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be tested by Google’s self-driving car team on its private test track in California prior to operating on public roads. A sub-division of X, which is part of Google’s parent company Alphabet, the Self-Driving Car Project is working to develop fully self-driving vehicles that have the potential to make the world’s roads safer and increase mobility for the millions of people who cannot drive, with the ultimate goal of helping people get from A to B at the push of a button.
The new collaboration will help FCA and Google better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the real world, with the vehicles having the potential to prevent some of the 33,000 deaths that occur each year on the USA’s roads, 94% of which are caused by human error.
“FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for our self-driving technology,” said John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Google Self-Driving Car Project. “The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer, and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.”
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of FCA, commented, “Working with Google provides an opportunity for us to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry. The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”
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