Waymo is now the company responsible for developing Google’s autonomous car technology after the tech giant recently announced that it stopped development of its own car. As a result, Waymo has partnered with various automakers to provide their cars. Today, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced the completion of their 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans which were delivered to Waymo.
These one hundred Chrysler Pacifica minivans were part of collaboration initially announced by the companies back in May. The FCA had to specially modify the minivan’s electrical, chassis, powertrain, and structural systems for Waymo’s purposes. The Google company will begin to equip each of their new Chrysler Pacifica minivans with their self-driving technology. This will include a suite of sensors and radars which will enable the car to create a digital map of its surroundings, a new central purpose-built computer and other autonomous systems.
John Kfrafcik, the CEO of Waymo, has stated that the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans will be a welcome addition to their completely autonomous fleet of test cars. He praised the speed with which the FCA worked, allowing Waymo to go from the start of the program to full car assembly in just six months. He also expressed his interest in further collaborating with the company in 2017 as the company will begin to deploy its fleet of test cars.
Waymo opted to implement their self-driving technology into a minivan because they want to explore how the technology works with various types of vehicles. The goal is to find what type of car works best as a driverless car. Thanks to the Chrysler Pacifica minivans, Waymo will be able to learn how people of various demographics such as age, shape and group sizes experience their technology. He also revealed that a number of prototypes have already undergone a range of tests, including over 200 hours in extreme weather situations.
It has been previously reported that Waymo is set to establish a car-sharing service with FCA, by releasing a number of semi-autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans to the public. However, it seems that those vehicles will be part of another batch of cars meant for Waymo, as such as service will require a lot more than just one hundred cars.
Image source: Waymo