First order of business for the newly-established Waymo (Google’s self-driving car unit that spun off as its own company): team up with a major automotive manufacturer to make one of their 2017 vehicles automated.
Waymo and Fiat Chrysler have teamed up to introduce the self-driving 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivan. The two teams worked together to build a custom-made variant that has custom electrical, powertrain, and chassis improvements to handle the weight of the added electronics needed to make this car autonomous.
As you can see from the provided photos, the environmental sensors were tailor made for the Pacifica. It still sticks out like a sore thumb, but it’s passable. We like it. This hybrid can manage up to 30 miles on electricity alone, too.
Waymo says they were able to go from start to finish with this project in just 6 months, which is a good measure of the ease of which manufacturers can design cars with self-driving circuitry onboard.
Of course, this is all just for purposes of proof for now as these cars still aren’t ready for commercial availability. You may seem them out and about in testing capacity in the several test markets that Waymo is already up and running in, such as San Francisco, but don’t expect to be able to walk into your nearest Chrysler dealership and buy one just yet.
The hope, though, is that once the technology is fully matured and regulators start allowing these things onto the road, companies like Chrysler can offer up self-driving options for those who believe in this new future of automotive.
[via Fiat Chrysler]