Fiat Chrysler announced an agreement on Monday to supply thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo, Google’s self-driving subsidiary, to expand its fleet of autonomous vehicles.
Waymo currently has 600 Pacifica minivans in its fleet, some of which are used in its Early Rider Program in Phoenix. FCA delivered 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans during the second half of 2016 and an additional 500 in 2017. The minivans are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving software and hardware built-in.
More from their press release:
“In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler. “Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology.”
Waymo is set to open its autonomous ride-hailing service to the public starting in Phoenix this year.
“With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development, to operations and deployment,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. “The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale.”
Last November, Waymo began its Early Rider Program with a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans in Phoenix without drivers, becoming the first vehicle to attain "Level 4 autonomy," a classification determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Level 4 autonomy means the car is “fully autonomous” and is able to perform all safety-critical driving functions but not able to handle extreme environments or inclement weather.
In a safety report, Waymo details the procedures behind each of its different tests for its technology. They will start testing in the Detroit area soon, with each Pacifica Hybrid having a "highly-trained" driver inside.