Waymo orders thousands of Chrysler vans for self-driving taxi service

The Verge

Last week, Waymo said it began testing self-driving vehicles in Atlanta, bringing to 25 the total number of US cities in which it is testing.

The cars are being purchased from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which delivered 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans adapted for self-driving in 2016 and 500 more past year. Google's self-driving auto unit, Waymo, is ordering thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

"In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders", said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Waymo announced it was in discussions with Honda Motor Co.in late 2016 but hasn't shared any partnership details.

"These additional vehicles will help us scale", offered John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, in the release.




The automaker delivered 100 Pacificas adapted for self-driving to Waymo in the second half of 2016, FCA said, with another 500 produced a year ago. Their technology had already been tested in 25 cities across the US earlier this month, the self-driving minivans were tested in Atlanta.

The autonomous Pacifica minivans have been tested in 25 USA cities and are now running on the streets of five major cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Phoenix, and Kirkland.

The countdown for Waymo's autonomous ride-hailing service may be on, but other companies are stepping up their self-driving game, too.

The two companies first announced an alliance in late 2016, the Silicon Valley spin-off acquiring 100 of the plug-in hybrid vans to use in a pilot ride-sharing research project in the Phoenix area. Waymo receives the minivans from FCA, and it then outfits them with the hardware and software required to enable SAE Level 4 autonomy, which means a driver is not required as a failsafe in certain modes. The Mountain View, Calif. -based company has not said to which areas it plans to expand its ride-hailing service after launching in Phoenix, which is already a major test area for Waymo. The deal comes after Waymo equipped 600 existing Chrysler Pacifica minivans with its driverless technology in25cities nationwide.

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