Skip to main content

Google limits self-driving project plans with Chrysler to 100 minivans

2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends
Google’s self-driving car project is keeping its options open. The global search division of Alphabet said Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are building 100 self-driving minivans, but beyond that there are no ties, according to Reuters.

Google’s self-driving car chief executive, John Krafcik, said, “This is just FCA and Google building 100 cars together.” Google is not sharing autonomous car technology with FCA. Google will also own the data obtained from the minivan tests.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has previously stated that car companies going it alone in self-driving car development are making a mistake. He believes partnerships are essential and is actively seeking such relationships for Fiat Chrysler. At the time, Marchionne said it was not clear whether FCA would have access to the data from the collaboration with Google. Google has now answered that question clearly and explicitly.

“We’re still talking to a lot of different automakers,” said Krafcik. “We’ve been very open about what the technology is and the problem we want to solve together. Solving this problem is going to require a lot of partnership.”

Krafcik mentioned 33,000 U.S. traffic deaths and more than 2.3 million injuries every year with human drivers as motivation to introduce autonomous cars as soon as they can prove safer than driver-driven vehicles. Google, however, has no set schedule.

“We have a responsibility to get this out there as soon as we can and really as soon as we have data that says we’re better than the current system of flawed human drivers. As soon as we’re better we should push the button and go.”

Google has to date logged 1.5 million miles of driverless car testing. No one has made public any specific number of miles or other metrics necessary to allow self-driving cars on public roads. It’s not just a matter of piling up the miles, either. Federal and state laws and regulations need to be adopted for self-driving cars to legally operate on roads beyond the limited testing now allowed.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
From Paris to NYC, Mobileye will bring self-driving cars to metropolises
A self-driving vehicle from Mobileye's autonomous test fleet navigates the streets of Detroit. (Credit: Mobileye, an Intel Company)

A Tesla in Autopilot mode can ply the highways of Northern California without issue, but when it comes to congested cities packed with erratic vehicle traffic, bikes, and pedestrians, cameras don’t always cut it. Or they didn’t, anyway. After years of testing, Intel-owned Mobileye intends to embrace the madness of the metropolis by rolling out self-driving cars in cities across the world.

On Monday, the first day of CES 2021, the company announced that Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Detroit, and New York City will all see fleets of Mobileye-powered vehicles rolled out in early 2021, if all goes well (regulatory issues are still being ironed out in NYC).

Read more
Waymo ditches the term ‘self-driving’ in apparent dig at Tesla
waymo takes its self driving cars to florida for testing in heavy rain

Autonomous car company Waymo says it will stop using the term “self-driving” in a move that many will see as a swipe at Tesla.

Alphabet-owned Waymo said that starting this year it will refer to its driving technology as “fully autonomous.”

Read more
To reach level 4 autonomy, these self-driving cars head to winter boot camp
Sensible 4 winter driving

Is there a more magical seasonal sight than snowflakes falling on banks of snow under a white sky, the only bursts of color to break up the merry scene being a jolly holly bush or a Christmas robin hopping across the top of a frozen fence? Maybe not if you’re a human. If you’re a self-driving car, on the other hand, that scene is pretty darn terrifying.

Autonomous vehicles are increasingly great at parsing street scenes and safely navigating according to either camera images or bounced Lidar inputs. Unfortunately, snow is an issue for both cameras and laser scanners due to noise (read: falling snow) blocking the sensors, and white-out conditions preventing the camera from seeing surroundings properly.

Read more