Recent announcements were made that Google was putting its vehicular self-driving technology research and development under a new company name and moving it to the Alphabet holding company. This new company is called Waymo and one of the first questions to come out of this transition was whether or not Waymo would continue with the partnership that had been created with FCA to create self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans for the future. The answer is in and it’s a positive one with Waymo creating the minivans that will drive themselves and will be put on the roads by the end of 2017.
The partnership brought 100 of these new minivans to Google to work with and now, under the Waymo name these minivans have been driving in three areas without the need of drivers for the most part. So far these minivans have been tested at the Google test track in California, at the FCA Proving Ground in Chelsea, MI and the Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ. These three locations offer a variety of ways for Waymo to test out these vehicles so they can get a feel for the self-driving tech that needs to be in place to make these vans fully autonomous.
The testing in Michigan is sure to increase over the next few months with the new law that was recently passed. In recent legislation, the state of Michigan has made it possible for any automaker to test autonomous technology on public roads with only a few provisions. This new legislation will make it much easier for Waymo and for other automakers to obtain the certifications needed to sell self-driving vehicles in the future to those who want to learn more and enjoy this impressive new technology.
The idea behind the Waymo Chrysler Pacifica vans that are autonomous is the goal of learning more about how all people drive. These vans will help them do this with larger groups, families, and others that will be able to enjoy a vehicle that’s connected and has the size to accommodate nearly anyone. Not only do they want to learn about driving habits and develop the autonomous technology for the road, they are also trying to figure out how to compete with Tesla which is ready to offer the Model 3 soon. Tesla was able to make a profit this past year because of the number of clean car credits it earned and the lowered costs of production, which Waymo is trying to lean to duplicate and improve upon.
This new company that has spun from Google may become the logo of the autonomous world as we see these new Pacifica Hybrid models brought to the market that can drive themselves. There has been thought in the past that a tech company needed to partner with an automaker to create the autonomous vehicles we’ll enjoy in the future and this partnership could be prove of that mindset. With the goal of bringing these vans to the market by the end of 2017 the reality is upon us and we may be enjoying an autonomous world of Waymo vehicles very soon.