The move is being touted as the most advanced collaboration to date between Silicon Valley and a traditional carmaker.
The deal marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an automaker “to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle,” the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.
Google and Fiat Chrysler engineers will fit Google’s autonomous driving technology into the Pacifica minivan. It will all be built in North America so we are not going to see them over the pond for some time.
Google also said it is not sharing proprietary self-driving vehicle technology with Fiat Chrysler, however, and the vehicles will not be offered for sale to the public. So it is hard to see what Fiat Chrysler will get out of it.
Car makers are falling over themselves to develop self-driving cars. General Motors bought San Francisco self-driving car startup Cruise Automation . German automakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen bought digital mapping company HERE to accelerate their autonomous driving development.
Google’s self-driving car engineers had previously purchased Lexus sport utility vehicles made by Toyota and retrofitted sensors and other hardware into the cars on their own.
Google has said that it does not want to build self-driving vehicles on its own and has explored alliances with auto companies, but none have been finalized. Working more closely with Fiat Chrysler could help Google refine its systems as a step toward offering them in regular production cars.
John Krafcik, chief executive of the Google Self-Driving Car Project said that working closely with FCA engineers will accelerate its 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.