Waymo and Chrysler give “first look” at self-driving minivans
Waymo CEO John Krafcik has posted a blog “sharing a look” at the 100 newly-completed Chrysler Pacifica “fully self-driving” minivans that will be joining Waymo’s fleet of test vehicles in early 2017. Waymo’s parent company Google/Alphabet agreed to work with Fiat Chrysler (FCA) on autonomous vehicle technologies back in May, and the new Pacifica minivans are the fruit of this partnership.
“With this great new minivan on the road in our test markets, we’ll learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology,” said Krafcik in his blog, adding that the vehicles are “equipped with our latest Waymo self-driving technology, including our suite of updated sensors, all-new computer and other major system updates”.
Krafcik continued: “Getting from program kickoff to production and full vehicle assembly in half a year is a testament to the strong teamwork and collaboration between FCA and Waymo engineers. We’re looking forward to having these new vehicles on public roads in 2017.”
In other news about autonomous vehicles, General Motors is set to begin testing its self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV in Michigan. The tests will take place both at GM’s Technical Center campus in Warren and on the roads in Metro Detroit. GM has already conducted tests in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona. Earlier this year, GM bought the specialist company Cruise Automation to ramp up its self-driving expertise and it has also been working on autonomy projects with Lyft (in which it has invested $500m).
Meanwhile, Uber has said that it will not seek a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for its testing programme on the streets of San Francisco because it believes its self-driving Volvos do not meet the DMV’s classification of an autonomous vehicle, since they don’t work without a person behind the wheel. According to some local reports, Uber has actually been using its self-driving cars in San Francisco for months, but officially only started picking up passengers on Wednesday – and that was the moment when the DMV took a stand on the permit issue.