Google already has a testing fleet including modified Lexus SUVs and vehicles they have built from the ground up. Well now they’re partnering up with Fiat-Chrysler group to develop an autonomous minivan using the Chrysler Pacifica’s platform.
This will be the first time Google is directly working with an automaker even though they have used both Toyota and Lexus platforms in the past. Their plan is to build and test around 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans with the first one hitting the streets by the end of this year. That means you may be able to see autonomous Chrysler minivans roaming around the streets of California soon. But, before the minivans are released into the wild they will first be tested on Google’s private test track.
Both companies will make contributions towards the self-driving minivan based on their expertise. Google will be providing the self-driving technology including the necessary software and sensors while FCA provides them with the platform. This partnership will also allow Google to test the system on something larger than a Lexus RX450h SUV.
In a written statement, Google said “FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle.”
It’s now only a matter of time before autonomous vehicles are both legal and widespread, especially with the new Self-Driving Coalition For Safer Streets, founded by Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber and Lyft, pushing for federal action.