Fiat Chrysler has announced that it will supply a further 500 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Waymo’s autonomous driving test program later this year, building on the initial 100 cars already delivered so far.
Waymo – the mobility solutions division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet – has also announced its Early Riders program in Phoenix, Arizona, allowing members of the public to experience everyday travel in one of the specially prepared vans.
In a collaborative effort between engineers from Fiat Chrysler and Waymo the Pacifica vans have been modified with additional sensors on roof-mounted pods developed by Waymo and also run specially developed Waymo software, integrated into the Pacifica’s electrical architecture.
“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,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo explained.
“This collaboration is helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realise the safety and mobility benefits of this technology.”
Fiat Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, a long-time supporter or collaborations between FCA and other firms, be they automotive or otherwise, also praised the deal with Waymo, which allows the car maker access to autonomous technology at a lower cost than if it developed it itself.
“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,” Marchionne said.
“The addition of 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans is a further acknowledgement of the hard work put forth by both engineering teams.”
Already Waymo has amassed over 4.8 million kilometres of on-road testing of its autonomous systems with public testing underway in select locations in California, Washington, and Texas.
MORE: Waymo | Fiat Chrysler | Autonomous