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First Waymo-FCA car revealed

First test century: 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid models are now ready to undergo a transformation into driverless test vehicles as part of an agreement between the car-maker and Waymo.

Chrysler delivers Pacifica Hybrid fleet for Waymo autonomous technology fit out

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Chrysler logo20 Dec 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

CHRYSLER has completed the order of 100 Pacifica Hybrid people movers that will be converted into autonomous technology development and demonstration vehicles by recently renamed Google self-driving car project outfit, Waymo.

With the donor cars now ready to go, the Waymo team of specialist fitters and technicians will retrofit the purpose-built computers, sensors and telematics to the Chryslers and the company has today revealed a first glimpse at what the converted cars will look like.

Until now, the face of Google’s self-driving advances has been the benign ‘Noddy’ car which has become almost commonplace on certain Californian roads during testing, but a more conventionally penned vehicle is likely to garner less attention on the road.

While the previous vehicle was unmistakable as Google’s unique purpose-built car, the Waymo Pacifica is only identifiable with a roof-mounted hump and laser beacon, which could pass as luggage pod, and small camera/sensor installations that resembles an ocean liner bridge.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the collaboration in May this year which marked the first occasion Google had enlisted the assistance of a car-maker and lead to the creation of a specially united team of Chrysler and Waymo staff at dedicated premises in Michigan.

The first converted Pacificas will join the Waymo fleet early next year and the company predicts it will have completed the entire 100-vehicle lot in six months.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the partnership was an essential move if the company’s range of vehicles were to keep up with a rapidly evolving market and industry.

“As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” he said.

“Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”

The car-maker is predicting that the technology and advancements that result from the project has the potential to prevent a proportion of the 1.2 million road deaths that occur each year, 94 per cent of which are caused by human error, it reports.

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