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Waymo, FCAU partnership strengthens with "thousands" of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans supply
31 January 2018, 09:37 | Gordon Grant
Waymo strikes a deal to buy 'thousands' more self-driving minivans from Fiat Chrysler
Last November in Phoenix, Waymo began test-driving its fleet of minivans.
Picture courtesy of WaymoSAN FRANCISCO, Jan 31 - Former Google auto unit Waymosaid yesterday it was ordering "thousands" of vehicles from FiatChrysler for the expansion of its autonomous ride-hailing service across several U.S. cities.
By the end of 2018, FCAU will start delivering the vehicles integrated with Waymo's self-driving hardware and software. "Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology", Marchionne added in their statement. This first-of-its-kind collaboration between Waymo and FCA engineers enabled the teams to design a self-driving vehicle built on a mass production platform. "FCA delivered 100 in the second half of 2016 and then an additional 500 in 2017", said Gutierrez, who wouldn't say specifically how many minivans will be needed.
The Pacificahybrid vehicle will be Waymo's primary workhorse when its support debuts in Phoenix sometime this season.
"For example, driving in Phoenix has allowed us to test our sensors and software in desert conditions, including extreme temperatures and dust in the air", Waymo said in a safety report touting its arrival on MI roads in late 2017.
Delivery of the vehicles is expected to take place later this year and they will be deployed across multiple cities in the US.
Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, is set to open its autonomous ride-hailing service - a robotic-like taxi service with no driver behind the wheel - to the public this year in Phoenix, Ariz.
The autonomous Pacifica minivans have been tested in 25 United States cities and are now running on the streets of five major cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Phoenix, and Kirkland.
With drivers, Waymo achieved a landmark as the first so-called "Level 4" autonomous vehicles, which may operate without drivers in limited geographical regions.
Waymo had already ordered 600 Pacifica minivans, and the additional minivans are to be used as the company expands to other cities, according to a news release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. "We've been able to unlock an entire geographic area for our fully self-driving cars, and soon members of the public will get to use Waymo's driverless service to go to work, to school, to the grocery store and more", Waymo said a few months ago.
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