FCA in talks to use Waymo self-driving tech in showroom-bound models

Waymo self-driving prototype

Waymo is making huge strides in the race to develop a safe and robust self-driving service.

The Alphabet-owned company formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project on Thursday announced that starting in 2018 it will order up to 62,000 additional Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to join its self-driving fleet.

It follows Waymo’s announcement in March that it will source up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace SUVs by 2020, and a report from a week ago claiming Apple is looking to source Volkswagen vans for a self-driving service to be used by employees.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been supplying Pacifica Hybrids for Waymo’s fleet since 2016, initially with a 100-vehicle order and 500 more added since then. Controlling the minivans is a self-driving system that’s been in development at Waymo since 2009.

Beyond the supply of vehicles, FCA is also beginning discussions with Waymo about licensing the self-driving technology, including potentially for a vehicle FCA could sell to the public. No further details were given but automakers have in the past discussed the potential of selling cars with self-driving systems to end users, though such a reality is still some time away. We could however see electronic driver aids leveraging Waymo’s self-driving technology much sooner.

“FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.”

Waymo is one of the leaders in the self-driving car space, having racked up over 6.0 million miles of real-world testing. It plans to commercialize self-driving cars as early as this year. The first service is expected to cover about 100 square miles in Phoenix, Arizona.

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General Motors has even more ambitious plans. The automaker plans to put into a commercial service next year self-driving cars devoid of a steering wheel and pedals. GM on Thursday announced that its self-driving car business, called GM Cruise, has received a $2.25 billion backing from Softbank Vision Fund, considered the world’s biggest tech investor.

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