Published: Tue, January 30, 2018
IT | By Lester Massey

Waymo orders thousands of Chrysler vans for self-driving taxi service

Waymo orders thousands of Chrysler vans for self-driving taxi service

It seems that Alphabet's Waymo is looking to build up a pretty sizable fleet of self-driving cars because in an announcement by carmaker Fiat Chrysler, both companies have reached a deal which will see Waymo buy "thousands" of Chrysler Pacifica minivans which presumably will be turned into self-driving vehicles.

FCA and Waymo did not reveal exactly how numerous modified Pacifica vehicles will be made available, but a spokesperson for the carmaker stated that it will be less than 10,000. FCA US has revealed that it's supplying the former Google self-driving division with thousands of Chrysler Pacific minivans and that delivery will begin in late 2018.

Alphabet's driverless auto unit is set to publicly launch its autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix later this year, where it has been performing pilot trials since October 2016.

FCA and Waymo kicked off their partnership in May 2016, after which the first batch of 100 minivans was shipped to the Google-owned company. "The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale". Asked for details on the length of the agreement, a spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler said the companies would not disclose terms.

"In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders", FCA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in the release.

Waymo has tested its vehicles in 25 US communities to date, and began testing on metro Detroit's public roads this winter.

Last November, Uber said it planned to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo as part of a non-exclusive deal from 2019 to 2021, marking the transition of the U.S. company from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars.

GM is already planning on deploying about 2,500 autonomous vehicles in 2019, which are expected to have no steering wheel or pedals, making them the first real robot-taxis to be out on the road.

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