Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU, -1.41%) is expected to supply “thousands” of modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo, which is looking forward to becoming a successful business under Alphabet (GOOG, -0.02%). Alphabet is the parent company of Google. As of now, Alphabet is planning to launch a self-driving taxi service.
The vehicles will be equipped with Waymo’s suite of self-driving hardware and software. FCA is expected to start delivering by the end of 2018. Once they are delivered, these self-driving minivans will be tested in multiple cities.
Waymo did not explain what “thousands” could possibly mean. They didn’t reveal the name of the cities, they are interested in introducing their self-driving minivans, either. Their technology had already been tested in 25 cities across the U.S. earlier this month; the self-driving minivans were tested in Atlanta. The card is also being tested on public roads in Austin, Texas, Kirkland, Washington, Mountain View, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.
This step will tighten the relationship between FCA and Waymo. From the research and development stage to the commercial enterprise, Waymo has progressed a lot.
Back in May 2016, The collaboration in between the companies was announced. The initial target was to produce about 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans integrated with Waymo’s self-driving system. The minivans are designed to accommodate the self-driving systems of Google, including the sensors and the computers.
Waymo introduced their autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans in December 2016. In 2017, 500 self-driving Pacifica Hybrid minivans were delivered to Waymo by FCA.
In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders. Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology. – Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA
Almost all of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans of the company are now driving around Chandler & that too without a human test driver. Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix. The self-driving Fiat Chrysler minivans were being tested on public roads in Chandler by Waymo since 2016. But Waymo always puts a human test driver behind the wheel. The area is expected to expand soon. It will cover a large portion, about 600 square miles of the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix.
Waymo is trying really hard to introduce its autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix as soon as possible. They have introduced an offer that allows the first users to be part of the early rider program of Waymo. This offer was launched in back in April 2016 in the Phoenix area. Although the “early riders” of the self-driving minivan, till now have always been accompanied by a human test driver in the vehicle.