FCA teams up with Waymo to produce autonomous minivans

Updated Dec 20, 2016
Waymo has teamed up with FCA to produce 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.Waymo has teamed up with FCA to produce 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.

When it comes to news of autonomous vehicles, most stories lately have focused on large Class 8 trucks.

However, that changed today with a joint announcement from Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, and FCA, both of which have teamed up to produce 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.

The vans are currently being outfitted with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology, including a purpose-built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics and other systems and will join Waymo’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017.

The first-of-its kind collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate Waymo’s fully self-driving system into the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.

Modifications were made to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems.

“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, CEO of Waymo. “They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”

Waymo and FCA co-located part of their engineering teams 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 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, CEO of 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.”

FCA reports that self-driving vehicles have the potential to prevent some of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94 percent of which are caused by human error.