Google recently spun its autonomous driving project into a separate subsidy dubbed Waymo. Now less than a week later, the new arm has provided us with a first look at its Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans outfitted with self-driving technology.
John Krafcik, the former president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America that is now in charge of Waymo, said the vehicles seen here are equipped with their latest array of sensors and processing hardware.
While there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a minivan which by nature, isn’t exactly sporty or flashy, they could have done a lot worse. IMO, it looks far better than Google’s own “koala” pod-style prototypes we’ve seen running alongside Lexus SUVs.
Like the Lexus, the Chrysler Pacifica is also far more practical for families seeing as the pod cars can only accommodate two people. It would be great for singles looking to zip around town but that’s about it.
Krafcik said that they’ve already run a gamut of tests using several early prototype Pacificas which includes more than 200 hours of extreme-weather testing. Even before production started in October, they had put the early vehicles through their paces at their test track in California as well as at Chrysler’s proving grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Yucca, Arizona.
Waymo anticipates having its fleet of Pacifica minivans on public roads sometime in 2017.