Waymo Buys Thousands Of Chrysler Pacificas For Self-Driving Tests

Waymo Fiat Chrysler deal self-driving cars Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans autonomous technology ride-hailing service Uber General Motors CEO John Krafcik Uber Volvo deal

Auto group Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V (FCA) agreed on Tuesday to supply Alphabet Inc.'s autonomous vehicle division Waymo thousands of minivans, as the self-driving unit prepares its public launch of its driverless ride-hailing service later this year. Originally, Waymo was testing in California with bespoke R&D vehicles, but made the switch to using Pacifica Hybrids in early 2017.

Previously, FCA delivered to Waymo, 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans, customized for self-driving in the second half of 2016.

The collaboration between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo - a US -based, self-driving technology company that has been testing cars on public roads since October 2015 - is a first of its kind, according to FCA officials.

He added that their partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthens, with the agreement serving as the latest proof of their commitment to this type of technology.

This year, Waymo is committed to initiate on its autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix.

"With the world's first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles in the street, we've moved from development and research to operations and installation", Waymo manager John Krafcik said in a statement.

Waymo Fiat Chrysler deal self-driving cars Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans autonomous technology ride-hailing service Uber General Motors CEO John Krafcik Uber Volvo deal
Waymo is due to begin offering a ride-hailing service to the public in Phoenix later this year

FCA has delivered 100 of the hybrid minivans specially adapted for autonomous ride sharing in 2016 and past year delivered an additional 500 vehicles.

Delivery of the new vans will begin late in 2018 and will require extensive conversion work before they are actually ready to operate publicly. Level 4 autonomy means the auto is "fully autonomous" and is able to perform all safety-critical driving functions but not able to handle extreme environments or inclement weather.

"For example, driving in Phoenix has allowed us to test our sensors and software in desert conditions, including extreme temperatures and dust in the air", Waymo said in a safety report touting its arrival on MI roads in late 2017.

FCA will supply thousands of hybrid Pacificas to Waymo.

Waymo has been testing the service in a small area of Phoenix for the past year - most of the time with a driver in the auto as a back-up. But Waymo always puts a human test driver behind the wheel.

Waymo has officially tested its technology in 25 cities across the USA, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Metro Detroit, Phoenix and Kirkland, Washington. General Motors has petitioned the national government to allow its own Chevy Bolt autonomous vehicles - the first robotic cars without steering wheels - on the street by 2019.

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