Back in May of this year, Fiat Chrysler and – at the time – Google's Self-Driving Car Project, signed a deal where FCA would give the project 100 Chrysler Pacifica's to add to their fleet. It was rumored that Google, now Waymo, wanted this particular model because it's a hybrid, so it can go electric or gas (of course for autonomous cars, companies want electric cars, as it makes it truly autonomous) but it also has autonomous doors. So that after someone gets out of the car, the vehicle will automatically close itself. Now these vehicles have been outfitted with Waymo's technology to be autonomous. Today, FCA announced the vehicles and showed off some pictures of them as well.
As you can tell from the photos here, this isn't your typical Chrysler Pacifica, nor is it your typical self-driving car. Waymo and FCA worked together at a plant in Southeastern Michigan on the Chrysler Pacifica, and it appears to have cameras on the sides of the vehicle towards the front, as well as one on the front. And of course all kinds of sensors on top of the car. It actually looks rather sleek compared to some of the other vehicles in Waymo's self-driving fleet. FCA noted in their press release that they had to make engineering modifications to the vehicles electrical, powertrain, chassis, and structural systems, so that the Pacifica Hybrid would be fully autonomous with Waymo's technology.
Waymo's CEO, John Krafcik stated in a prepared statement that "the Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our full self-driving test fleet. FCA's product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months." Krafcik also added that FCA has "been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017."
Even though Waymo has created their own self-driving cars, that isn't the end goal for the company. They are looking to create software which they can sell and install on other cars from auto makers like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Which is exactly what they have here with their partnership with FCA. Especially since FCA has yet to get started on their own autonomous software, which has put them at a distinct disadvantage compared to their competitors – especially their competitors in Chrysler's hometown, GM and Ford. However this partnership with Waymo is definitely going to be beneficial for the company, and it'll be interesting to see if this partnership extends past the 100 Chrysler Pacifica's that the company already has.