Waymo (formerly the Google self-driving car project) will add 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to expand its self-driving program, FCA announced on Tuesday.
FCA previously delivered 100 minivans, modified for self-driving, to Waymo during the second half of 2016. Production of the additional 500 minivans will ramp up beginning next month. Waymo will then outfit these vehicles with its self-driving technology.
Waymo also announced that it is inviting members of the public to use its fleet of self-driving vehicles for everyday travel. Waymo’s early rider program will give selected Phoenix residents the opportunity to experience the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for the first time. Information about Waymo’s early rider program can be found at waymo.com/apply.
The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are the most advanced vehicles on the road today, equipped with Waymo’s powerful hardware suite. The self-driving minivans are also running Waymo’s self-driving software, which has been honed with nearly 3 million miles of on-road testing and billions of miles in simulation.
This first-of-its kind collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate Waymo’s fully self-driving system into the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, leveraging each company’s individual strengths and resources. The minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were all modified to accommodate Waymo’s self-driving technology.
Waymo and FCA co-located a select group of engineers 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.
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to prevent many of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94 percent of which are caused by human error.
“The collaboration between FCA and Waymo has been advantageous for both companies as we continue to work together to fully understand the steps needed to bring self-driving vehicles to market,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. “The addition of 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans is a further acknowledgement of the hard work put forth by both engineering teams.”
“The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is a versatile vehicle for our early rider program, which will give people access to our self-driving fleet to use every day, at any time,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo. “This collaboration is helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realize the safety and mobility benefits of this technology.”