Google's self-driving Pacifica. Via Google
DETROIT (AP) - Fiat Chrysler and Google will work together to more than double the size of Google's self-driving vehicle fleet by adding 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
The companies announced the agreement on Tuesday, saying that Chrysler engineers would work Google to install sensors and software so the vans can drive themselves.
The added vehicles are needed as Google expands real-world testing. Google says it will own the gas-electric hybrid vans, and it's not licensing autonomous car technology to Fiat Chrysler or anyone else. Both companies are free to work with others as well.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Here's what Google wrote about the partnership:
We’ve expanded our testing program to a total of four U.S. cities over the last several months, so it’s time to add more vehicles to our fleet. We’re planning to more than double our fleet with the initial addition of about 100 new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and we hope the first few will be on the road by the end of this year.
This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles. FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle. The minivan design also gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors.
In the coming months, our team will collaborate closely with FCA engineers. This experience will help both teams better understand how to create a fully self-driving car that can take you from A to B with the touch of a button. Collaborations like these are an important part of realizing the potential of self-driving technology to improve road safety and make transportation more accessible for millions of people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.