Google and Fiat Chrysler have officially inked a deal to collaborate on self-driving cars. Specifically, the partnership will see the two equip 100 Pacifica minivans with autonomous car tech in an effort to expand Google’s existing self-driving test program. This marks the first time that Google has worked directly with an automaker to integrate its self-driving system -- its existing fleet consists of several Lexus RX450Hs and Toyota Priuses modified by Google employees as well as a prototype two-seater designed in-house.
The Pacifica partnership will serve as an experiment for Google to see how larger vehicles deal with self-driving technology. It also more tan doubles their current fleet, which is needed as the company expands real-world testing in Mountain View, California; Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and the Phoenix area.
The Pacifica vans will be tested by Google on its private test track in California initially, but eventually they'll make their way to public roads.
Fiat itself won’t license any of Google’s self-driving technology and the deal is non exclusive for either company. But it will give them a closer look at what it takes to transform a standard vehicle into an autonomous one. Speaking to USA Today, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said they don’t consider tech companies a threat, “these are people who will help us shape the next phase of the automotive industry.”
A separate report by Bloomberg says Google also tried to ink a deal with General Motors, but ultimately it fell through due to disagreements over ownership of technology and data.