Waymo and Chrysler Partnership Continues Into Detroit

April 24th, 2019 by

Waymo Kendall Dodge

Photo credit: Waymo

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) received a huge purchase when it shipped over 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid models to Waymo, formerly Google’s self-driving service project. This partnership took another step towards its eventual wide-spread release early in the second quarter of 2019 with the announcement by Waymo to begin producing the former Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans into their Waymo certified self-driving vehicles, fitted with all the technology and cameras that allow these vehicles to be self-driven. The plans, as noted by CEO John Krafcik in a blog post, revealed they intend to have the production start by the end of this year. They have purchased a building in Detroit that will need to be converted first.

“Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve found the perfect facility in Detroit. We will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose an existing facility, bringing a workforce back to an area where jobs in the automotive industry were recently lost,” John Krafcik wrote.

More About These Modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids

Already a fantastic vehicle for drivers and passengers alike to enjoy, the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was named the Family Car of the Year in 2018 and 2019 by Cars.com. We know exactly what made the Chrysler Pacifica and the Hybrid version sought after and why Waymo went with this minivan over any other vehicle in the entire automotive industry. The Chrysler Pacifica supplies a wonderfully spacious and comfortable interior.

Each Chrysler Pacifica boasts a sleek and modern design, a quiet cabin, and its known as the first minivan to offer a hybrid version with up to 32 miles of an electric range helped this vehicle stand out amongst the crowd. The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid actually has higher than an 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Waymo made the right choice by going with the premiere Chrysler vehicle. However, they are still getting past the kinks and operational issues that need to be fixed before Waymo can become more mainstream and able to compete with companies like Uber and Lyft.

Few Remaining Challenges

The special treatment by Waymo to convert these minivans into almost entirely autonomous vehicles starts with the addition of the Lidar sensors and high-end cameras. Waymo’s new facility will work to ensure the fleet is capable of working as the company intends. Currently, Waymo has a business in Arizona and will extend to Michigan soon all their self-driving services. The current issue Waymo is working to overcome is figuring out how to adapt to severe and harsh weather, like what can be found in Michigan. Ice and snow have affected how well the sensors operate. They have started harsh weather testing in Novi, a suburb of Detriot.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has stated this Waymo project will add at least 100 jobs, with the number reaching as high as 400 jobs. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has sought $8 million from MEDC to help their own investment that currently stands at $13.6 million in just Detriot alone. The news of Waymo adding these jobs in Detriot is good news for former General Motor employees who had lost their job earlier this year.

Waymo Is Looking For More Talent

Waymo is hoping to add engineers and fleet coordinators for the upcoming work. Reaching Level 4 autonomous driving is not an easy feat. This is described by the Society of Automotive Engineers as having “designed (a vehicle) to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadways conditions for an entire trip, but human drivers may need to intervene in certain scenarios”. While this is the next step for Waymo, they are committed with the right vehicle to become the next big thing.

See For Yourself Why Waymo Chose the Chrysler Pacifica

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