Google to test self driving minivans with Fiat

Google and Fiat Chrysler have announced that they are about to build 100 self driving minivans, some of which will be on the road later this year.

Google has announced it is working with Uber, Lyft, Ford and Volvo as a lobby group called the Self Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. Interestingly, though the lobby group was formed last month, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was not announced as part of it. Google has been developing the self driving car concept for some time, including testing the cars in Greenwich, London, but this move with Fiat Chrysler takes the concept into minivans.

In a statement about the FCA collaboration posted on its blog on 3 May, Google said: “We’ve expanded our testing program to a total of four U.S. cities over the last several months, so it’s time to add more vehicles to our fleet. We’re planning to more than double our fleet with the initial addition of about 100 new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and we hope the first few will be on the road by the end of this year.

“This collaboration with FCA is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles. FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle. The minivan design also gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors.”

Though flying drones are getting a lot of interest, automated delivery vans are the likely workhorses of the automated delivery world. They will be less susceptible to adverse weather and will be able to carry far greater loads than their flying colleagues…