Waymo orders way mo‘ self-driving minivans from Chrysler

Enlarge / You'll know it's a Waymo Pacifica Hybrid by the roof bar covered in sensors. (credit: FCA)

Waymo, the self-driving Google spin-off, is getting ready to seriously expand its operations. On Tuesday morning, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it has signed an agreement to supply Waymo with "thousands" of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. Originally, Waymo was testing in California with bespoke R&D vehicles, but made the switch to using Pacifica Hybrids in early 2017. Currently, Waymo operates a fleet of around 600 of these autonomous minivans; these are mostly in the Phoenix area, although it tests in a number of other locations including snowy Michigan and Atlanta.

"With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development, to operations and deployment," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. "The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale."

This news confirms that the race to field—as opposed to just test—"level 4" autonomous vehicles (which will be geofenced) is now between Waymo and General Motors.

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