Waymo is gearing up to launch its own self-driving shuttle service, but before it does, it'll need more cars - a lot more cars.
"In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders", said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. Waymo announced it was in discussions with Honda Motor Co.in late 2016 but hasn't shared any partnership details.More news: Intel told Chinese firms of Meltdown flaws before the United States government
Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, has reached a deal with one of Detroit's Big Three automakers to dramatically expand its fleet of autonomous vehicles.
"The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale", Waymo CEO John Krafcik said.
Delivery of the additional minivans will begin later this year and will support expansion of the Waymo service to additional cities. Level 4 autonomy means the vehicle is "fully autonomous" and is able to perform all safety-critical driving functions but not able to handle extreme environments or inclement weather. Their technology had already been tested in 25 cities across the USA earlier this month, the self-driving minivans were tested in Atlanta.
In December 2016, Waymo initiated on developing its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.More news: WWE Royal Rumble 2018
Now nearly 100 of the company's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans are driving without a human test driver in Chandler, an area of Phoenix.
The sleek minivans will be outfitted with steering wheels, but won't have drivers from front seats.
The company proved it has reached Level 4 autonomy in November 2017, when it started testing the minivans without a driver at the wheel.
That's in addition to the 600-plus Pacifica vans Waymo has already converted to self-driving vehicles it's using to test out the software in more than two dozen cities.More news: Air Force One's new refrigerators will cost taxpayers $24 million