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Waymo Buying 'Thousands' of FCA Minivans for Self-Driving Service

31 January 2018

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Tuesday that it will supply thousands more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo. The minivans are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo's self-driving software and hardware built-in.

The cars will be used for Waymo's driverless taxi service; delivery will be in late 2018 and the minivans will be deployed in multiple USA cities.

Fiat Chrysler declined to specify the actual number of vans sold to Waymo in this deal, saying only that it's in the "thousands".

Waymo has already tested its autonomous technology in 25 USA cities, and adding thousands of Pacifica Hybrids will support the expansion of its service.

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The collaboration between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo - a USA -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. "FCA delivered 100 in the second half of 2016 and then an additional 500 in 2017", said Gutierrez, who wouldn't say specifically how many minivans will be needed. It's worth noting that the Chrysler Pacifica minivans were the first set of vehicles to include Waymo's proprietary self-driving system, although the company has been road-testing a number of autonomous Lexus SUVs in more recent times.

With plans to commercialize its technology, Navigant Research has now listed Waymo as one of the top three players in self-driving technology, along with General Motors and an alliance between Germany's Daimler, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, and auto supplier Bosch. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. Waymo is building the most experienced driver with over 4 million miles driven on public roads across 25 US cities, and billions of miles of simulation testing each year. The company announced just last week it will bring its testing apparatus to metro Atlanta, making Georgia the first southeastern state to have self-driving test cars its midst. He added that their partnership with the company is strengthening and growing that indicates the latest sign of their commitment to this technology. The self-driving Pacifica minivan is the first vehicle to be graded as Level 4 autonomy by the Society of Automotive Engineers. They will start testing in the Detroit area soon, with each Pacifica Hybrid having a "highly-trained" driver inside.

"With this accelerated learning cycle, we've been able to teach our vehicles the advanced driving skills necessary for full autonomy".

GM is already planning on deploying about 2,500 autonomous vehicles in 2019, which are expected to have no steering wheel or pedals, making them the first real robot-taxis to be out on the road.

Waymo Buying 'Thousands' of FCA Minivans for Self-Driving Service