Waymo Hits Deal to Purchase "Thousands" of Self-Driving Minivans

Thousands of hybrid Pacificas to be used in driverless taxi service

Waymo has been testing its ride-sharing program in Phoenix but plans to launch in other markets as it goes fully driverless.

Driverless Car Waymo Ordered Thousands of MiniVans from Fiat Chrysler - Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles declared Tuesday that Waymo has arranged tens of thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for shipping by the end of this year as Google's self-driving subsidiary expands its driverless ride-hailing support to multiple towns. Waymo announced it was in discussions with Honda Motor Co.in late 2016 but hasn't shared any partnership details.

FCA stated that its collaboration with Waymo has enabled in the design of self-driving vehicles that are being built on a mass production platform. In 2017, 500 self-driving Pacifica Hybrid minivans were delivered to Waymo by FCA.

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FCA will supply thousands of hybrid Pacificas to Waymo. The company has tested its technology in 25 cities around the US. Its biggest fleet is in Arizona, where they have been testing their upcoming commercial service, which is now expected to launch later this year when the company starts taking deliveries of the new vans. "Waymo has officially tested its technology in 25 cities across the USA, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Metro Detroit, Phoenix and Kirkland, Washington", reports FCA.

Waymo is using its current driverless Pacifica van fleet to shuttle beta testers around suburban Phoenix as part of its Early Rider program that launched a year ago, the first such program opened to the public. The company also owns a fleet of self-driving Lexus RX SUVs that is has been phasing out in favor of the new minivans. With this technical milestone, the hybrid minivans became the first vehicle to attain Level 4 autonomy, a classification determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The company placed its first order for 100 minivans back in 2016, which were kitted out with autonomous technology to use for testing on public roads. Waymo is building the most experienced driver with over 4 million miles driven on public roads across 25 US cities, and billions of miles of simulation testing each year. A stock Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan, which can carry up to eight passengers, runs $40,000, but we can safely assume Waymo is getting a discount buying so many units at once.

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