Google, FCA make partnership official

#hashtags: #Google #Chrysler #Chrysler Pacifica #FCA #Pacifica

Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have made it official: they will form a partnership to further develop autonomous vehicle technology using the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan.

The collaboration will expand the Google Self-Driving Car Project while FCA gets a tech toehold in a segment where it has fallen behind many of its competitors.

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. Google contracted Roush to build a fleet of small pod-like cars that are already testing technology in four cities in California and Michigan.

When the Pacifica Hybrid minivans start testing later this year, it will more than double Google’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles. Initially testing will be done on Google’s private test track in California  before the minivans try driving on public roads.

FCA will design and engineer around 100 minivans uniquely built to accommodate Google’s self-driving technology. Google will integrate a suite of sensors and computers that will essentially become the driver.

Engineers from both companies will work out of a facility in southeastern Michigan to prepare and start testing self-driving minivans.

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.”

The industry is pursuing autonomous driving as the next big leap in the fight to prevent the 33,000 deaths a year in the U.S. of which 94 percent are caused by human error.

“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 FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”