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January 9, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Reveals Van at Detroit Auto Show

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid equipped with Waymo technology.

Alphabet’s newly-launched autonomous car company has unveiled the initial results of its partnership with Fiat Chrysler: a fully-automated minivan.

Waymo, a spin-off from Google’s Lab X, is working with Fiat Chrysler to bring self-driving vehicles to the masses. It’s first test vehicle with Fiat Chrysler — a fully-automated Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan — was unveiled over the weekend at the Detroit Auto Show.

The vehicle, for the most part, looks much like a traditional van, but some of the Waymo-made self-driving sensors are clearly visible on the vehicle’s body. The most prominent sensor and vision system is located on the van’s roof.

CEO John Krafcik, during a speech at the auto show Sunday, said the sensors are all “designed and built from the ground up by Waymo, with every part manufactured with one goal in mind: to safely handle the complex task of full autonomy.”

Waymo and Fiat-Chrysler have engineering teams working on the autonomous minivan project together at a facility in southeastern Michigan. There, the minivans’ electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems are being altered to optimize them for Waymo’s self-driving technology. The goal is to add 100 fully-automated Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the company’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017. The first vehicles are to take to the road later this month.

Waymo’s partnership with Fiat-Chrysler is a good indicator Alphabet is doing all it can to accelerate its original timeline of getting self-driving vehicles into the hands of consumers by 2020.

(Via the New York Times)


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