Strange Bedfellows or: How Sergio Got His Way and Created a Fleet of Robot Pacificas
A dream collaboration has finally become a reality for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne.
After angling for a partnership for over a year, FCA has announced a joint venture with Google’s Self-Driving Car Project. This is the first time the mega company has worked directly with an automaker to test its shadowy autonomous vehicle technology.
The project will see Google work its sensor-and software magic on a fleet of about 100 purpose-built 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, with engineering teams from both companies working alongside each other in southeast Michigan.
Working out the bugs on a fleet of ghost minivans should give the teams a greater understanding of the challenges that need overcoming before the technology becomes mainstream. Google already has pilot projects ongoing in four U.S. cities.
“The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits,” said Marchionne in a statement.
Before the pilotless soccer team movers roll out across Michigan, they’ll first be tested on Google’s private California test track. The Pacificas will more than double the vehicles Google has to work with.
Marchionne’s enthusiasm for other people’s cutting-edge technology is well known. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, he waxed poetic about a dream partnership with his beloved Apple.
That didn’t come to pass, but the Google fling gives FCA big bragging rights in the self-driving game. The company doesn’t have the bank balance needed to snatch up startups in California ( like its competitors), so a partnership beats buying a seat at the table with money it doesn’t have.
[Image: FCA US LLC]