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Waymo introduces Fiat Chrysler minivans that can drive themselves

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Tracy Samilton
/
Michigan Radio
Waymo CEO John Krafcik at 2017 NAIAS

Google self-driving spin-off Waymo will show its fully automated Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans at the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

"With the integration of Waymo's hardware and software," says Waymo CEO John Krafcik, "these Pacificas have become the most advanced cars on the road."

Krafcik says the lidar (an environment sensing system that uses lasers), radar, and other self-driving technology, along with the artificial intelligence software, were all developed in-house by Waymo engineers.

That level of proprietary control may have been one of the reasons a rumored Waymo hookup with Ford Motor Company never took place.  Ford is developing its own self-driving technology, as is General Motors.

Krafcik says self-driving cars could save countless lives - traffic accidents kill more than a million people every year around the world - and enable people who can't drive to be mobile, like the elderly and blind.

The minivans will be on roadways in Arizona and California this month.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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