Chrysler Teams Up with Waymo for Driverless Pacificas

Google's self-driving project gains traction towards reality.

Recent news of Google's self-driving car program, Waymo, has set the media ablaze with new speculations on the company's autonomous efforts. With Uber testing out driverless cars in California and GM doing the same in Michigan, the Chrysler/Waymo tandem makes for another party itching to sort out autonomy first, and who's to blame? This race continues to push the boundaries that are keeping us from a smarter, safer road. 

These two powerful partners canabsolutely make things happen here. Chrysler has brought 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the table, enabling Waymo with plenty of test subjects for the study. Since 2009, Waymo themselves have performed more than 2 million miles of self-driving tests, perfecting the process and allowing for extensive research. They are now outfitting each of these Pacificas with their computers, giving them ability to transport passengers and cargo alike throughout town without the worries of human error, a factor that makes up 94% of the 1.2 million traffic related deaths annually. Though we get caught up in the marvel of autonomous technology, the driving force behind the program remains safety, and with good reason.

This alliance has been rapid-fire since its inception. As soon as it was announced seven months ago, Chrysler pushed their Pacifica Hybrids to the limit in a variety of ways -- especially in terms of efficiency. As we covered in a recent piece, the nation's first hybrid minivan exceeded even Chrysler's projections, lasting 33 miles on electricity alone. It also reached 84 MPGe, a particularly respectable feat. Now, with Waymo taking delivery of these Pacificas, the company will alter the cars electronics as well as their structure to accept the self-driving technology. 

Waymo aims to put these Pacifica Hybrids to use in the first part of 2017. This will put them in good standings with the rest of their competitors, keeping them even in the pursuit. They should give the program a roomier option that can comfortably fit more people, therefore broadening the company's demographic. Expect it to be a crucial part to Waymo's continued development of autonomous vehicles over the next year.