Google is expanding its lineup of self-driving cars, increasing its already robust fleet with a partnership with Chrysler.
The Google Self-Driving Car Project has been in the works for some time now, going on seven years at this point. Self-driving cars could make our roads safer, allow more people to operate cars, and positively impact both traffic congestion and harmful emissions.
Google’s goal with the project “is to help people get from A to B at the push of a button,” but years of testing, partnerships and lobbying are likely to be needed before the project is a daily reality.
In the project’s seven year history, the vehicles in the test fleet have self-driven over 1.5 million miles on public roads according to Google, and they’re currently being tested in Mountain View, CA, Austin, TX, Kirkland, WA, and Phoenix, AZ. The Google Self-Driving Car Project is part of X, a moonshot factory that’s part of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
The Google Self-Driving Car Project and the FCA announced today that two companies will integrate Google’s self-driving technology into all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. This will be the next stage in Google’s already existing self-driving test program.
This marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an automaker to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle.
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. Engineering responsibilities will be shared based on each company’s respective expertise. FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology. 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.
“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, Chief Executive Officer, 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 U.S. roads, 94 percent of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help FCA and Google better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.
“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,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “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. The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be tested by Google’s self-driving car team on its private test track in California prior to operating on public roads.