Chrysler & Waymo (Google / Alphabet) Finish First 100 Autonomous Pacifica Hybrids

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Work has finished on the first 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to be used by the Waymo–Chrysler partnership for testing purposes in early 2017, according to recent reports.

The Waymo (Google / Alphabet) and Chrysler partnership is reportedly aiming to use these vehicles to gather data and get closer to the launch of an autonomous “ridesharing” (on-demand taxi) service. Reports are that such a service could launch as soon as late 2017 — in select markets, that is.

A wider rollout, even in the most optimistic of scenarios, would have to wait for various necessary legislative changes. In California? In Texas? In Arizona? In Washington? Maybe so. Though, late 2017 may still be a bit early, by my estimation.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik commented: “With this great new minivan on the road in our test markets, we’ll learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology.”

The Verge provides more: “The vans, which are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software built in… Waymo had been testing a number of prototype Pacificas, but these vehicles appear to have much tighter integration of Waymo’s self-driving hardware than those prototypes.”

Continuing: “FCA and Waymo engineers modified the Pacifica’s electrical, powertrain, chassis, and structural systems to ready the van for Waymo’s self-driving tech. The two companies have been testing prototype Pacificas at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as at Waymo facilities in California. The trials included 200 hours of ‘extreme-weather testing.'”

As that last bit implies, the new autonomous Pacifica Hybrids are the result of engineers from both companies collaborating rather closely.

The new Pacifica Hybrids will represent quite a step up from the Frankenstein-like Lexus RX SUVs — with the large LiDAR systems on the roof — used to date. Presumably, the new vans will look almost just like any of the other new Pacficas on the roads of the US.

As a reminder, there looks to be a very good chance that Chrysler and Waymo will be showcasing the new autonomous Pacifica Hybrids at the upcoming CES 2017 show in January. We’ll keep you posted as more information is revealed.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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