Google’s Waymo self-driving car company has been retired, the company announced today, with the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans it purchased taking their place.
The ‘Firefly’ prototypes were tiny, two seater self-driving cars without a steering wheel or pedals. Those working on Google’s self-driving car project used Firefly to learn more about autonomous driving hardware and software and racked up millions of fully autonomous test miles on the cars.
Last year Waymo announced it was buying 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans from Fiat Chrysler with the purpose of testing their self-driving hardware and software on the vehicle. They then ordered another 500 of the vans after the initial phase of testing proved successful and now they’ve fully committed to using the Pacifica Hybrid.
In a post on Medium, the Waymo team said the Firefly was never intended for production and was only a test-bed for tech. By moving to the production-based Pacifica Hybrid, the team is taking a big step toward bringing the tech to market.
“By focusing on mass-produced vehicles like the Pacifica minivan, we’ll be able to bring fully self-driving technology to more people, more quickly. The Pacifica minivans are equipped with our latest generation of custom-built radar, LiDAR and vision systems and an all-new AI compute platform, so they can see even further and sharper. They can also reach full speed (where the Firefly is limited to 25mph), and the interior is equipped with creature comforts that passengers expect in their vehicles today — which makes our initial fleet of 600 self-driving minivans a perfect fit for our early rider program.”