According to a statement released this week, search engine giant Google and renowned automaker Fiat Chrysler will be partnering in a bid to bring 100 self-driving minivans to the roads.
This will actually be one of the most advanced partnerships that Silicon Valley has made with the carmaker and it will be the first time that Google has entered into such a partnership including a traditional automaker. The two are aiming to see Google’s self-driving technology integrated into Chrysler made minivans.
The deal will see engineers from both Google and Fiat Chrysler come together to see to it that the former’s self-driving system, which includes sensors and software, is fit into the latter’s Pacifica minivan. The engineers will be assembling at Fiat Chrysler’s facility in Southeast Michigan. This is actually where the automaker’s main North American engineering center is located. As far as Google is concerned, it will not be sharing its proprietary self-driving technology with the automaker.
Google has been very busy with trying to bring self-driving technology to the roads, however, it has so far been affected by quite a number of bumps, especially from regulatory bodies. While this deal might see some progress as the company looks to automate things on the roads, competition in the industry is rife. Just this March, for instance, General Motors agreed to buy Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based self-driving car company, an indicator that the celebrated automaker will soon be making its presence in this industry felt.
There is even more as last year saw Volkswagen and BMW buy the digital mapping company HERE as they look to improve on their development of autonomous driving.
Before this deal with Fiat Chrysler, engineers at Google had decided to buy a Toyota Lexus Sport and fitted it with its own software and sensors, among other hardware. However, the new deal will now see Google fit the same software and hardware into 100 Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler.
Google has also confirmed that it doesn’t want to work independently as far as self-driving cars are concerned. Now that it has a deal in place, it could be easier for them to refine the systems in a bid to have them fixed in almost every future car. Even though this deal might help Fiat Chrysler settle the current net debt of $7.6 billion, executives from other carmakers such as Ford Motor and GM are of the view that such a deal might relegate automakers into mere hardware suppliers for Google.