Waymo signs deal for 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids

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Waymo does not intend to make cars itself. However, mentions of licensing were typically vague and seemed to be a development that would happen in the distant future.

Waymo and FCA are taking different approaches to autonomy than GM Cruise is, though both sides have bet on laser radar, or lidar, as the best technology for fully self-driving cars. If a licensing deal were to materialize, it would be non-exclusive, according to Waymo.

"FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic", says FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne in the release.

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The expansion of the partnership between FCA and Waymo goes beyond growing the fleet.

If you live in Phoenix, you may have seen one of Waymo's 600 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids ferrying passengers around town. Waymo didn't provide details on the terms of the deal, including when the order of 62,000 vehicles would be complete.

Despite its technical lead, Waymo has struggled to form strong auto-industry partnerships that would give it a clear path to getting enough vehicles on the road for a profitable commercial ride-hailing service.

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Waymo is making huge strides in the race to develop a safe and robust self-driving service. Waymo augments the Pacifica Hybrid minivans' existing sensors with a large roof-mounted hardware and software system to operate without a driver. Under the partnership, the new all-electric I-Pace crossover sport utility produced by Jaguar Land Rover will become the next self-driving vehicle in Waymo's fleet. The current fleet has counted over six million miles of on-road testing. It comes ahead of the Alphabet division's first ride service this year, while the company is also in discussions to allow others to sell cars that feature its autonomous technology. Waymo has also applied for driverless testing in California.

Last year, Waymo announced that safety drivers to take over in case of emergency are no longer needed, but that some employees may be remained during the early parts of the service.

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