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Google and Fiat Chrysler to Test Self-Driving Minivans

Google and Fiat Chrysler to Test Self-Driving Minivans

By Philly Murtha, May 05, 2016
This week, technology giant Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the automaker recognized for coming up with the iconic minivan concept in 1984, announced that the two companies are teaming up to test Google’s self-driving technology in a fleet of 100 of the automaker’s newest 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid midsize vans that will go on sale in dealer showrooms this year.

The venture will be a team effort that provides Fiat Chrysler with Google self-driving technology and gives Google the chance to adapt their driverless knowledge to larger, mainstream vehicles. Previously, Google used different suppliers to build self-driving test-vehicle prototypes and also modified Toyota SUVs to test self-driving systems.

Later this year, FCA engineers will work with technical staff from the Google Self-Driving Car Project, which was started seven years ago, to integrate the self-driving system, sensors, and computers into Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicles at a location in Southeastern Michigan.

The project’s mission is to develop self-driving cars that can make auto transportation safer and accessible to people who cannot drive, according to John Krafcik, CEO of the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Currently, Google is testing autonomous driving vehicles in four cities: Mountain View, CA; Austin, TX; Kirkland, WA; and Phoenix, AZ. The midsize vans will be evaluated on a private Google track in California before operating on public roads.

Other major automakers, including BMW Group, Volkswagen’s Audi brand, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Toyota Group, plus Tesla and Volvo are moving ahead with their own autonomous driving projects. In conjunction with all of these self-driving projects, Google and Ford are urging the federal government to work on setting up guidelines and rules for autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads. The hope is to have vehicles with self-driving technology available by as early as 2020.
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