After rumors surrounding the partnership surfaced this week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google have announced a partnership that will see Google’s self-driving technology installed into the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan for testing purposes.
The partnership is a first-of-its-kind collaboration and is the first time Google has worked directly with an automaker to integrate its autonomous driving system into a mass produced passenger vehicle. The Google Pacifica Hybrids will first be tested later this year and will effectively double Google’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles.
FCA says engineering responsibilities will be shared between the two companies based on their respective expertise, meaning Google will handle most the self-driving software and sensors, while FCA will ensure the Pacifica Hybrids operate as they are supposed to. FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 uniquely built Pacificas for Google, with more perhaps being built at a later date.
“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.”
“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,” added FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans equipped with by Google’s self-driving technology minivans will be tested on its private test track in California prior to being tested on public roads. Google is currently testing self-driving vehicles in Mountain View, CA, Austin, TX, Kirkland, WA, and Phoenix, AZ.