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Google and Fiat-Chrysler To Build 100 Driverless Minivans

Google and Fiat-Chrysler in the coming months will jointly develop and manufacture 100 driverless cars. The search giant's driverless car technology will be added to 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans for the 2017 model year. However, if you were looking to buy one, Chrysler parent FCA Group said they're not for sale -- the companies are building the vehicles for test purposes only.

The two companies' engineering teams will work together at a facility in southeastern Michigan. FCA Group said it will initially design and engineer the 100 vehicles to accommodate Google's driverless car technology. Google will integrate the various sensors and CPUs that will let the cars drive autonomously.

While Google has engaged in high profile tests of driverless cars it has built on its own, it's the first time the company collaborated with an outside automaker. "FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google's self-driving technology," said John Krafcik, CEO of the Google Self-Driving Car Project, in a statement included in FCA's announcement. "The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive."

Google isn't the only major IT provider working with automakers to develop driverless cars. Volvo tapped Microsoft for its own driverless car effort back in November, though the companies didn't commit to rolling out vehicles in any specific time frame. The Volvo Concept 26 apparently will tap on Microsoft's machine learning technology. Microsoft is also looking at new ways of applying machine learning with embedded solutions with various IoT initiatives. The two companies are using Microsoft's HoloLens enhanced reality 3D headsets together as well. IBM has also demonstrated driverless car technology, most recently at the Detroit Auto Show. Apple is believed to have its own aspirations to offer a driverless car with analysts consistently suggesting the company buy Tesla, an idea most observers have scoffed at. Right now, it looks like Google is in the fast lane.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/04/2016 at 11:15 AM


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