Google has had a fairly long history with self-driving cars, starting back when the idea was little more than one of the moonshot projects at Google’s X lab. More recently, Google decided to spin off their self-driving car technology to a new company under the Alphabet umbrella, Waymo, and work with automotive industry partners instead of trying to create their own vehicles. Fiat-Chrysler was mentioned as the first such partner, and there were rumors that the Chrysler Pacifica minivan would be the first to get some self-driving smarts.
Today, Waymo announced that production is complete on 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans that are now ready to have Waymo’s smarts installed. These vehicles will join Waymo’s self-driving fleet in early 2017. The collaboration between Waymo and FCA allowed for each company to really play to their strengths: FCA can build a capable vehicle while Waymo can add the fully self-driving system. These Pacificas aren’t quite your normal consumer model. Chrysler made several adjustments to the electrical, powertrain, chassis, and structural systems of the vehicles in order to better accommodate the self-driving technology.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik was quite complimentary of the work Chrysler has done in such a short time:
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. They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.
Along with the news that the production was complete, we’re getting our first look at the tricked-out grocery-getter, as Waymo has taken the wraps off of it with a couple promotional images.
We can see quite a few additions in these photos, including the domed sensor array and hardware on the top of the vehicle that we’ve come to expect. There are more sensors jutting out from the front fender just below the rear view mirrors, another just below the rear hatch, and one in front just below the Chrysler emblem. I’m sure there are more goodies hidden away, but those are at least a few of the obvious sensors that we can see in the promotional images.
What do you think about Waymo and Fiat Chrysler unveiling their collaboration on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica? Tell us in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.Source: PR Newswire