By on January 30, 2018

Waymo, the self-driving division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, just announced it has reached a deal to purchase a buttload of Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Alright, to be fair, it didn’t actually use the term “buttload.” It said Chrysler would provide “thousands” of units, which will ultimately be outfitted for autonomous driving.

Unfortunately, neither company seems willing to disclose an official count. Waymo currently has around 600 self-driving Pacificas in its fleet, so even an extra thousand vehicles would equate to a multi-million dollar deal and the exponential growth of its autonomous development program.

“With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development to operations and deployment,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in an official statement. “These additional vehicles will help us scale.”

In the past, Waymo used its little Firefly pod prototypes and Lexus SUVs for testing. However, it has almost entirely phased both out in favor of the Pacifica. The primary reason being that the minivan has more commercial applications. A big order like this could be indicative of the company wanting to move out of testing and into business.

However, with its autonomous fleet just beginning testing in seriously inclement parts of the United States, being able to hail a self-driving Pacifica may not be in the cards for a while.

Still, residents of Phoenix, Arizona have been able to experience its autonomous vehicles without a driver — albeit in a localized area. The company claims it will expand its “Early Rider” program in the months to come, allowing more Arizona residents to use the minivans as their own personal taxi service.

Despite partnering with Waymo, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne’s feelings towards autonomy are noticeably measured compared to other CEOs. In the past, he called the race toward autonomy “difficult” and cited the headaches involved as one of the main reasons for getting into bed with company in the first place.

“In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders,” Marchionne said in a statement. “Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology.”

[Image: Waymo]

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9 Comments on “Waymo to Purchase ‘Thousands’ of Chrysler Pacificas for Self-driving Duty...”

  • avatar

    “Buttload” doesn’t usually come to mind when discussing empirical data. “How much solid fuel will it take to achieve orbit?” “A buttload should be sufficient.”

  • avatar

    That’s Millennial clear-thinking at work. Hey, dood…chill OUT, bro! It’s all kewel…that was, like, just ONE accident…just involving ONE of our cars, and a school bus and gasoline truck…like, accidents happen in butt-loads of cities, dood!

    I think the author picked up exactly, the kind of logic and clear thinking that Google-Boogle Alpha-Bits is showing, here.

    It will fail; it will fail because equipment and coding very-often fails; and because, while real, live humans have accidents, real, live, humans also can mitigate the mistakes of other operators, or make value judgments as to how to minimize harm.

    Google-Boogle will learn that, too. After dumping a buttload of money and snuffing out a buttload of lives.

    • 0 avatar

      “It will fail; it will fail because equipment and coding very-often fails; and because, while real, live humans have accidents, real, live, humans also can mitigate the mistakes of other operators, or make value judgments as to how to minimize harm.”

      That’s a pretty nihilistic argument. Most aircraft are fairly autonomous now, and that’s been a boon to aircraft safety. I like driving, but I can’t wait for self-driving cars because I’m aware of how much other drivers wish they were doing something else.

      • 0 avatar


        While aircraft CONTROL involves dozens of variables, as opposed to just four on surface-level transit…the choices involving other operating traffic are minimal-to-nonexistent. You have your flight path; and controllers are to keep other aircraft in THEIR flight path and out of yours.

        On the road, you have pedestrians, bicyclists, other drivers…fallen debris; sudden instructions from traffic cops or other drivers. Immediate choices: Hit a dog, to avoid a swerved car? Hit a dog or a deer? Ram the light pole to avoid the child running after a ball?

        Will the Waymo know the difference between a big dog and a small child?

        Steve Wozniak had interesting observations on Tesla’s semi-auto drive…and he owns one. It cannot figure out what to do with a traffic cone in the center of the Tesla’s trajectory. It cannot judge to swerve left or right.

        I expect more “programming problems” to pop up on this; and the way we’re going, I expect a lot of lives lost in the process, too.

  • avatar

    Looks like the Eagle 5 from Spaceballs.

  • avatar

    If they are going to invest in minivans for the autonomous future at least they bought the best!

    • 0 avatar
      The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

      Agreed! It’s The Ultimate Family Friendly Hybrid Vehicle!

      To be more precise, thousands of Pacifica minivans would be a kardashian buttload.

  • avatar

    So if it’s bad to sell to rental fleets, is it bad to sell to autonomous fleets????

  • avatar

    These are all plug-in hybrid Pacificas, no? Not just because green=good PR but because the buttload of sensors and computers on board require a fair bit of electricity, or so I am told.

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