FCA to deliver thousands of Pacifica minivans to Waymo's self-driving service

Chelsea West
January 31, 2018

But until today, only one - General Motors (NYSE: GM) - had announced concrete plans to build a slew of driverless taxis and deploy them in ride-hailing service. The exact number and timetable were not specified.

Waymo did not explain what "thousands" could possibly mean.

"Already they have 600 minivans in their possession ..." The minivan's electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems make an ideal vehicle to accommodate Waymo's self-driving technology. The company is also testing the technology on public roads in Texas, Austin, Mountain View, Calif., Kirkland, Wash., and Phoenix, Ariz.

Waymo's coalition with FCA is so far its only affiliation with an automaker.

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Back in May 2016, The collaboration in between the companies was announced. Originally, Waymo was testing in California with bespoke R&D vehicles, but made the switch to using Pacifica Hybrids in early 2017. FCAU and the tech company worked together to design the minivans to easily facilitate Google's self-driving systems, comprising sensors and computers. It's the third such deal between the Italian-American carmaker and the search giant: Waymo scored 100 Chrysler hybrid minivans in 2016 and another 500 a year ago.

"Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology", Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. The company also owns a fleet of self-driving Lexus RX SUVs that is has been phasing out in favor of the new minivans. Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix. Waymo's additional order shows just how big and serious its plans are for its taxi fleet and that it's nearly ready to get the service up and running. However, the vehicles always had a human test driver behind the wheel. The area is expected to expand soon. The area would grow, eventually covering a huge portion of the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix, nearly 600 square miles.

The future just got a little closer: The company formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project said that it's gearing up to launch what it's calling the world's first driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix later this year.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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