Google has a variety of self-driving cars in its fleet, including the instantly-recognizable egg-shaped cars that turn heads wherever they go, but now it will add a less-noticeable minivan to its fleet. Earlier this week, Google and Fiat Chrysler announced it will integrate self-driving technology into the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.
The announcement marks the first time Google has worked directly with an auto manufacturer to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a car.
About 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will join the Google Self-Driving Car Project later this year, more than doubling the current fleet. Engineers from both companies will work at the same facility in southeastern Michigan to meet the short timeline.
“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,” says John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Google Self-Driving Car Project.
A joint statement by both companies says that the project will allow both Fiat Chrysler and Google to better understand how to bring self-driving cars to market worldwide. In the U.S., about 33,000 deaths occur annually due to auto accidents, 94% of which are caused by human error.
In the 7 years that Google’s self-driving fleet has been on the road, the cars have traveled over 1.5 million miles. They are currently being tested in Phoenix; Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; and Kirkland, Washington. The self-driving version of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan will be fully tested on a private test track before they go into operation on public roads.
Self-driving cars may not be on sale yet, but there is plenty of technology to make driving easier and safer right now, including features like automated parking. Check out these 5 high-tech features for savvy drivers.
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Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.