Earlier this year Fiat Chrysler and Google partnered on a new autonomous vehicle project that would see the tech giant equip 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans with its self-driving autonomous car technology. It appears as though some of the first prototypes are now on the road, with tech site Electrek uploading photos of the vehicles in a Google parking garage over the weekend.
The photos show a total of six Google Pacificas arriving at a Google facility in Mountain View, California. Some of the prototypes have already been equipped with the sensors required for autonomous operation, while others were fitted with mounting equipment for the sensors. Electrek notes the roof-mounted sensor and LIDAR sensor fitted to the Pacifica is smaller than on other Google car prototypes.
Google is looking to make its autonomous tech more suited for widespread use on public roads with its Pacifica prototypes. The radar sensors and cameras are not only smaller, but the roof-mounted sensors are closer to the roof and other sensors have been embedded into the front fenders. The 100 minivans join other the other Google test cars in its autonomous test fleet, which currently consists of 24 Lexus Rx450h SUVs and 34 Google car prototypes.
When FCA and Google first announced the partnership, Google noted it was interested in the Pacifica Hybrid as it was the only hybrid minivan in the U.S. and they were impressed by its “robust electrical architecture”. The Pacifica Hybrid has yet to officially go on sale, however it appears as though the majority of Google’s prototypes are hybrids – evidenced by the vans’ wheels.
We’re sure plenty of photos of the Google Pacificas will surface once they begin testing on public roads, but for now, check out the photos over at Electrek.
*Standard 2017 Chrysler Pacifica pictured