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Google teams up with Chrysler to build self-driving minivan

FCA and Google announce autonomous 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Remember Google’s self-driving car project? Today, it’s taken a step forward, after the search engine giant announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It means Google’s autonomous tech will be fitted inside the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. It’s the first time Google has partnered with a major car manufacturer for its self-driving programme.

So, Google handles all the autonomous tech – the sensors and so forth – while FCA will build around 100 Pacificas specifically designed to accept it. Teams from both companies will work in Michigan to finalise the project, and Google will test the Pacifica in California before it heads out onto the open, public road.

“Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry,” explains FCA boss Sergio Marchionne.

Google’s head of self-driving cars, John Krafcik, added: “The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.”

Both companies reckon autonomous cars can prevent some of the 33,000 deaths that occur on US roads each year – 94 per cent of which are caused by human error. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits,” Marchionne added.

Does it mean we’ll see future FCA cars with Google’s autonomous tech as an option? Only time will tell. Google’s own self-driving cars – those little pods you’ve no doubt seen – are currently being tested in four US cities, and to date, have self-driven over 1.5 million miles on public roads.

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