Thousands of Google self-driving cars are coming to American roads soon

Randall Padilla
January 31, 2018

Waymo has tested its vehicles in 25 US communities to date, and began testing on metro Detroit's public roads this winter.

Nearly all of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans of the company are now driving around Chandler & that too without a human test driver.

The testing in MI marked new territory for Waymo as the company was looking to test its software on the state's unpredictable winter roads and the cold weather experience.

Waymo already turned 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans into self-driving vehicles, but apparently, those aren't enough for the company's upcoming taxi service.

This made MI the sixth state to allow Waymo to test its self-driving software on public roads.

Large video screens will give passengers something to do while traveling in the Waymo vehicles.

Abuelsamid said he expects that the Waymo ride-sharing service will officially launch "within months" of a similar venture General Motors has said it aims to debut in 2019 using a modified version of its Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric vehicle.

Without drivers, Waymo achieved a milestone as the first so-called "Level 4" autonomous vehicles, which can operate without drivers within limited geographic areas.

"With the world's first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles in the street, we've moved from development and research to operations and installation", Waymo manager John Krafcik said in a statement.

FCA previously delivered 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans, adapted for self-driving, to Waymo during the second half of 2016 and an additional 500 in 2017. FCAU and the tech company worked together to design the minivans to easily facilitate Google's self-driving systems, comprising sensors and computers.

In a safety report, Waymo details the procedures behind each of its different tests for its technology.

The Pacifica hybrid vehicle will be Waymo's primary workhorse when its support debuts in Phoenix sometime this season. They said minivan's electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems of the minivan make it an ideal mass-production platform for Waymo's self-driving system.

The Pacificas that FCA supplies to the tech company are specifically created to integrate Waymo's autonomous driving hardware and software. "We learned how to navigate more confidently around new types of vehicles, like watering trucks that move 3 miles per hour on 45 miles per hour roads while spraying plants in road medians". If Waymo really is able to deploy self-driving taxis at scale this year, the Alphabet subsidiary could turn out to be the first mover in what is expected to become a huge new industry.

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