FCA to supply Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo's Self-driving Service

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FCA to supply Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo's Self-driving Service

Google's autonomous vehicle spin-off will soon expand its fleet of FCA minivans after striking a deal with the United Kingdom -based automaker to purchase thousands of more Chrysler Pacifica units.

The automaker delivered 100 Pacificas adapted for self-driving to Waymo in the second half of 2016, FCA said, with another 500 produced a year ago.

Waymo's self-driving vans are built on the standard Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan, but they include a collection of sensors and control mechanisms that don't exist in the minivans you can buy from the dealer.

Waymo has tested its vehicles in 25 USA communities to date, and began testing on metro Detroit's public roads this winter. "Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology", Marchionne added in their statement.

Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, is set to open its autonomous ride-hailing service - a robotic-like taxi service with no driver behind the wheel - to the public this year in Phoenix, Ariz. If Waymo really is able to deploy self-driving taxis at scale this year, the Alphabet subsidiary could turn out to be the first mover in what is expected to become a huge new industry. Earlier this month, it started testing the self-driving minivans in Atlanta.

Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving-car project, already has 600 self-driving Pacifica Hybrids in its development fleet in a partnership with FCA that began in 2016. Waymo and FCA haven't said how many thousands of minivans will be added to the driverless vehicle fleet, however.

The companies did not specify the exact number of vehicles involved in the agreement, but Waymo said the volume and timeline would depend on the progress of its self-driving pilots.

This made MI the sixth state to allow Waymo to test its self-driving software on public roads.

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

FCA did not disclose how many thousands of self-driving cars minivans Waymo is purchasing. 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 placed its first order for 100 minivans back in 2016, which were kitted out with autonomous technology to use for testing on public roads.

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