Waymo Buying 'Thousands' of FCA Minivans for Self-Driving Service

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Waymo is establishing itself at the forefront of the self-driving auto movement, particularly when it comes to autonomous vehicles that offers rides to passengers. Engineers from both companies worked together to develop a version of FCA's well-regarded Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan adapted to Waymo's self-driving system.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced it is supplying Waymo with thousands of Pacifica-Hybrid minivans to support the launch of the world's first driverless ride-hailing service. Waymo receives the minivans from FCA, and it then outfits them with the hardware and software required to enable SAE Level 4 autonomy, which means a driver is not required as a failsafe in certain modes.

The companies did not specify the exact number of vehicles involved in the agreement, but Waymo said the volume and timeline would depend on the progress of its self-driving pilots. Just take note that an employee will initially be riding in the auto with you to hit the "pull over" button in case of emergencies, but that will likely change in the future.

In May 2016, the companies announced an association to manufacture about 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans equipped with Waymo's self-driving system.

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Waymo has already tested its autonomous technology in 25 USA cities, and adding thousands of Pacifica Hybrids will support the expansion of its service.

"In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders", Sergio Marchionne, FCA CEO, said in a statement. Waymo, which had previously ordered 600 Pacificas, is expected to launch the world's first driverless service offered to the public. Currently, there are 25 cities where Waymo is testing its vehicles on public roads including Texas, Wash., Austin, Kirkland, Mountain View, Phoenix Calif., and Ariz.

Waymo is part of a growing number of vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and tech startups looking to develop so-called robo-taxis over the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia.

FCA first delivered 100 Pacifica-Hybrid minivans in 2016, then another 500 vehicles previous year.