Google is partnering directly with an automaker for the first time to integrate its self-driving system into a passenger vehicle.
The technology, including sensors and software, will be integrated into 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to expand Google’s testing program. FCA will design and engineer roughly 100 Pacifica Hybrids as a starting point, which will more than double Google’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles.
An unnamed facility in southeastern Michigan will play home to teams from both organizations as they work side by side to accelerate design, testing, and eventual manufacturing of self-driving Pacifica Hybrids.
Google is currently testing self-driving cars in four U.S. cities: Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. While self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will one day be tested on public roads, they will be put through the paces on a private test track in California before being unleashed on the masses.
However, there’s still no sign we’ll see them tooting around unsupervised on Canadian roads any time soon. Ontario, for instance, still has a regulation on the books that requires self-driving vehicles to have a fully licensed driver in them at all times.
When they become mainstream, self-driving vehicles are anticipated to prevent at least a portion of motor vehicle related deaths. In the United States, 94 percent of fatalities come as a result of human error.