Google and Fiat Chrysler team up to build fleet of 100 self-driving minivans

Google and Fiat Chrysler team up to build fleet of 100 self-driving minivans

Alphabet Inc's Google unit and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will be working together to come up with a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans. It is the first time that Google has been directly working with an automaker.

Under the deal, Google will be able to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software into a passenger vehicle. Google and Fiat Chrysler engineers will work in unison to fit in Google’s self driving technology into the Pacifica minivan.

At a facility in Southeast Michigan, some engineers from both the companies will work together. Google mentioned that it will not share proprietary self-driving vehicle technology with Fiat Chrysler. The vehicles will be not sold to the public.

The deal has come at a time when rival technology and auto companies have working tirelessly to master the hardware and artificial intelligence systems required to let vehicles pilot themselves. Experts have found the deal logical.

They said that a self-driving minivan would make sense to test the technology deployed in a controlled environment, like Google or Fiat Chrysler campus. Tuesday’s deal is considered beneficial for both the companies.

Fiat Chrysler is facing a net debt pile of 6.6 billion euros ($7.6 billion). Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has been making efforts for past more than one year to convince rivals to think of a merger to spread increasing costs involved in advanced safety and emissions technology.

Fiat Chrysler’s shares have increased more than 2% in aftermarket trading after Google deal was announced. Working more closely with Fiat Chrysler could help Google to refine its technology and it can offer them in regular production cars.

John Krafcik, chief executive of the Google Self-Driving Car Project, said, “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”.

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