Google, Fiat Chrysler Announce Collaboration on Self-Driving Cars
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the Google Self-Driving Car Project and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced Thursday they will integrate Google’s self-driving technology into the upcoming 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan to expand Google’s existing self-driving test program.
This marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an automaker to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be employed later this year for Google’s self-driving testing, more than doubling Google’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles.
Engineering responsibilities will be shared on the basis of each company’s respective expertise.
While FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology, Google will integrate the suite of sensors and computers that the vehicles will rely on to navigate roads autonomously.
Both companies will co-locate part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the design, testing and manufacturing of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica.
“FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google’s self-driving technology,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Google Self-Driving Car Project. “The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.”
Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 33,000 deaths that occur each year on U.S. roads, 94% of which are caused by human error, company representatives said. The collaboration should help FCA and Google better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.
“Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”
Google’s self-driving cars are currently being tested in four U.S. cities: Mountain View, Calif., Austin, Tex., Kirkland, Wash., and Metro Phoenix, Ariz. The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be tested by Google’s self-driving car team on its private test track in California prior to operating on public roads.
“The Google Self-Driving Car Project is working to develop fully self-driving vehicles that have the potential to make our roads safer and increase mobility for the millions of people who cannot drive,” said a company statement.
The ultimate goal is to help people get from A to B at the push of a button. In the project’s seven year history, the vehicles in the test fleet have self-driven over 1.5 million miles on public roads. The Google Self-Driving Car Project is part of X, a moonshot factory that’s part of Google’s parent company Alphabet.