Fiat Chrysler will become the first automaker to integrate Google's self-driving technology into its passenger vehicles, the companies announced Tuesday.
The automaker and tech giant will establish engineering teams in Michigan to collaborate on the development of about 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
The minivan fleet will be specifically tailored to Google's system by FCA engineers, while Google will integrate a network of computers and sensors to autonomously operate the vehicles.
The self-driving minivans will more than double Google's current fleet of autonomous test vehicles when they hit the road later this year. They will be tested on Google's California test track before beginning trials on public roads.
“Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”
The agreement coincides with efforts by federal transportation officials to develop nationwide standards for autonomous driving technology by mid-year.
Proponents argue that self-driving cars could eliminate the vast majority of traffic-related fatalities and provide new transportation options for people otherwise unable to drive. Critics, however, warn that current systems can't adequately address a variety of real-world driving scenarios, including poor lane markings and traffic directions from law enforcement.