May 6, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
For the first time, Google has announced that it will work directly with an automaker to integrate its self-driving system, including sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle.
Earlier this week, Google said that it will integrate its self-driving technology into all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to expand its existing self-driving test program. The Google Self-Driving Car Project and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the first-of-its-kind collaboration on Tuesday.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used later this year for Google’s self-driving testing, more than doubling Google’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles, FCA noted in a press release. Engineering responsibilities will be shared based on each company’s respective expertise, the release said, with FCA and Google engineers work alongside each other to integrate self-driving technology into vehicles.
FCA will initially design and engineer about100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology, while 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, the release said.
“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 the 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 roads in the United States, 94% of which are caused by human error, according to the FCA release. “This collaboration will help FCA and Google better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.”
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA, said that working with Google will allow the automaker to “accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry. 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, CA, Austin, TX, Kirkland, WA and Phoenix, AZ. In the project’s seven-year history, vehicles in the test fleet have self-driven more than 1.5 million miles on public roads.
The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be tested by Google’s self-driving car team on its private test track in California prior to operating on public roads.