Posted on December 22, 2016
Google's Waymo and FCA's Pacifica Autonomous Project is Ready
Dear fans, we have all been hearing and likely thinking of our automotive future and top of the talk is autonomous vehicles. I recall a recent conversation with a best friend who was trying to get his 80 years old father to give up driving for safety reasons. I said to him, “I do not want to be driving a car when I am 80 years of age”. He said “You say that now, but you will find it hard to give up your independence!” To which I replied, “Oh I will still have my independence, I just don’t want to be driving a car. I would like the car to drive ME!”
Well… we are almost there with the new autonomous car division of GOOGLE called WAYMO, Formerly known as the Google self-driving car project. WAYMO has teamed up with FCA and the class leading Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Fiat Chrysler has completed production of 100 special Pacifica Hybrids, and they are currently being fitted with Waymo’s computers and sensors.
Chrysler has made a host of changes to these Pacifica’s, in order to incorporate Waymo’s technology. This includes changes to the electrical and structural systems as well as powertrain and chassis updates. The autonomous Pacifica’s will be ready to join Waymo’s self-driving fleet in early 2017.
Fiat Chrysler and Google announced their collaboration just seven months ago. The Hybrid Pacificas underwent more than 200 hours of extreme weather testing in the prototype stage in order to prepare for this launch. FCA ran tests at its proving grounds in Michigan and Arizona, and Waymo utilized its test sites in California. The initial fleet of 100 Pacificas went into production in October of 2016 and should be ready to hit the roads in early 2017.
Waymo is gearing up to bring the autonomous Pacifica’s to public roads next year. The launch coincides with Uber’s launch of self-driving cars to California, much to the chagrin of local regulators.
It is well known that 94% of all vehicle collisions occur from human error. That said, FCA say autonomous cars can prevent many of the 1.2 million deaths that occur globally on the road every year. Google says it has now logged more than 2 million autonomous miles (3.2 Million Kms) on public roads. Have you ever read about an autonomous vehicle in a collision with another? I didn’t think so. I like to think of this technology as making our roads WAY MO safe! (pun)