With autonomous vehicles, driving the kids to soccer practice may soon not be the duty of a parent. This week, Google announced that it will partner with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to install their self-driving technology in 100 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivans, with hopes that the first vehicles will be road-ready by the end of the year.
“This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles,” according to Google. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles “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 and around the vehicle.”
Speaking with USA Today, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Google and other tech companies are integral towards shaping the automotive industry’s next phase.
“This announcement is a recognition of the fact we found a sharing of the minds with Google, but we cannot preclude someone else coming in (to help),” Marchionne told the media outlet. The two companies have been discussing the partnership for about a year.
Currently, Google’s self-driven cars have logged more than 1.5 million miles, and are cruising the streets of Mountain View, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Wash.; and Metro Phoenix, Ariz.
Jack Nera, of the auto-research firm Kelley Blue Book, told The New York Times that the situation is a “win-win” for the companies.
Automotive companies have increasingly ramped up research and development investments in autonomous driving. According to R&D Magazine’s Market Pulse, General Motors, Toyota, and Ford Motor Co. have all made investments in the autonomous driving arena in 2016.
“In the coming months, our team will collaborate closely with (Ford Chrysler Automobiles) engineers,” according to Google. “The experience will help both teams understand how to create a fully self-driving car that can take you from A to B with a touch of a button.”
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