Waymo, Fiat expand autonomous vehicle partnership to commercial vehicles
Self-driving car company Waymo LLC and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are expanding their autonomous vehicle partnership to commercial vehicles, and Fiat Chrysler will develop fully self-driving vehicles exclusively with Waymo going forward, the companies said on Wednesday.
Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc, and Fiat Chrysler said they will work together to develop autonomous light commercial vehicles for moving goods, starting by integrating Waymo's self-driving technology into Ram ProMaster vans, which Fiat Chrysler sells globally.
Waymo's Waymo Via autonomous goods delivery unit will use vehicles co-developed with Fiat Chrysler, the companies said.
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Self-driving vehicle companies and automakers have been shifting investment and engineering to delivery and other commercial uses of autonomous vehicles, betting that moving goods will offer a faster route to profits than overcoming the technical, social and regulatory obstacles to moving people.
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Fiat Chrysler is ending work on autonomous commercial vehicles it began in 2019 with startup Aurora. Aurora is continuing to use Chrysler minivans in its test fleets, and said in a statement that it "looks forward to deploying our self-driving solution on FCA's passenger and commercial vehicles."
In a blog post, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler said they will collaborate on "level 4" autonomous driving, a reference to a Society of Automotive Engineers classification that defines such vehicles as capable of driving themselves and taking action on their own if a dangerous situation occurs or the system fails.
Waymo has been working with Fiat Chrysler since 2016 to integrate its self-driving vehicle system, the Waymo Driver, into vehicles such as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
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The expanded partnership with Fiat Chrysler will cover "ride-hailing, commercial delivery, and personal-use vehicles around the world," Waymo Chief Executive John Krafcik said in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler's chief executive, Mike Manley, said in a statement the automaker intends to deploy Waymo's technology "across our entire product portfolio." The companies didn't say when new, autonomous vehicles will launch.
Fiat Chrysler also has a partnership with BMW AG and Intel Corp to develop automated driving technology.