Google on Tuesday confirmed what a couple of recent reports revealed: it’s taking its self-driving cars project to the next level. Google isn’t manufacturing brand new vehicles on its own. Instead, the company partnered with Fiat Chrysler, which committed to making 100 2017 Pacifica minivans equipped with self-driving technology.
Thus, the Pacifica joins the Lexus RX and Google’s cute prototypes to become the third car model in the world that’ll be able to drive itself around town using Google technology. The move will more than double Google’s fleet of self-driving cars, and while these won’t be commercial self-driving cars, it’s still a significant next step for the company.
The Google-Fiat Chrysler deal marks the first time Google partnered with a carmaker to create a driverless vehicle. Fiat Chrysler will design the cars, but Google will install the self-driving system, including the computers that hold the software and the sensors that let the car see its surroundings.
More importantly, the minivan design will also let Google test a larger vehicle that could be used for transporting multiple passengers who would enter and exit the vehicle. The car would also feature a hands-free sliding doors systems.
“This experience will help both teams better understand how to create a fully self-driving car that can take you from A to B with the touch of a button,” Google said. “Collaborations like these are an important part of realizing the potential of self-driving technology to improve road safety and make transportation more accessible for millions of people.”