Waymo is the new name for the Google self driving car project. Just before the end of the year, it let it be known it has abandoned its plans to manufacture its own vehicles and will forge alliances with established manufacturers instead. The first fruit of that new direction is a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans specially modified to test self driving technology that will be delivered to Waymo later this year. Those cars have now been manufactured and will be turned over to Waymo for installation of its purpose built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics, and other technology systems.
This first of its kind collaboration brought engineers from Chrysler and Waymo together to integrate Waymo’s self driving system into the all new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. The finished vehicles will take advantage of each company’s individual strengths and resources. Engineering modifications to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were implemented to optimize the Pacifica Hybrid for Waymo’s self-driving system.
“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo. “They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”
The two companies brought their engineering teams together at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the overall development process. In addition, extensive testing was carried out at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as at Waymo test sites in California.
“As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”
Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94% of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help both companies better understand what will be necessary to bring self driving cars to market.
Source: Electric Cars Report