After a long gestation period in innocuous bubbles, Google has decided it's time to expand its self-driving project and integrate sensors and software into passenger cars. As it turns out, those cars will be hybrid Chrysler Pacificas specially built to house the hardware required for safe autonomous driving.
We've been covering Google's self-driving car project since it kicked off in 2009, but this is the first time the tech giant has directly worked with a carmaker. With this collaborative spirit in mind, the two companies will base a part of their engineering team at a design, testing and manufacturing facility in Michigan.
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The design and engineering process is designed to play on each company's strengths, so Chrysler will manufacture the cars alone, before Google integrates the array of sensors and computers required to safely navigate the urban jungle without a driver.
"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," said John Krafcik, CEO of Google's Self-Driving Car Project.
"FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google's self-driving technology."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CFO, Sergio Marchionne, agreed, saying the project will help to drive industry-wide improvement in autonomous technologies.
"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," he said. "The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits."
According to Google, 94 percent of the 33,000 deaths that occur on US roads every year are caused by human error – a statistic that autonomous cars have the potential to significantly improve.
Source: Fiat Chrysler AutomobilesView gallery - 7 images