FCA in Auburn Hills and Waymo today announced they have taken the next significant steps in the expansion of their autonomous driving technology partnership.
Waymo, based in San Francisco, will now work exclusively with FCA as its preferred partner for the development and testing of class 1-3 light commercial vehicles for goods movement for commercial delivery customers, including Waymo Via.
The two companies initially will target integration of the Waymo Driver into the Ram ProMaster van, a highly configurable platform that is targeted to global commercial customers that primarily make deliveries.
The partnership will allow FCA and Waymo to leverage their respective strengths and competencies to determine how to effectively use autonomy to address the specific needs of commercial customers given the rapid growth of goods delivery services.
FCA also has selected Waymo as its exclusive, strategic partner for L4 autonomous technology across the FCA fleet and has already started to work with Waymo to imagine future FCA products for the movement of people and goods operated by the Waymo Driver.
The announcement likely means more work for Waymo’s plant in Detroit. In April 2019, Waymo announced it would equip vehicles like the Chrysler Pacifica with L4 autonomous technology at a plant owned by American Axle and Manufacturing Inc.
Waymo is expected to invest $13.6 million and create 100 jobs with the potential for up to 400 jobs by 2025, according to the Michigan Business Development Program, which pitched in with an $8-million performance-based grant.
“Our now four-year partnership with Waymo continues to break new ground. By incorporating the Waymo Driver, the world’s leading self-driving technology, into our Pacifica minivans, we became the only partnership actually deploying fully autonomous technology in the real world, on public roads,” says Mike Manley, CEO of FCA.
“With this next step … we’re turning to the needs of our commercial customers by jointly enabling self-driving for light commercial vehicles, starting with the Ram ProMaster. Adding Waymo’s commitment to partner with us to deploy its L4 fully autonomous technology across our entire product portfolio, our partnership is setting the pace for the safe and sustainable mobility solutions that will help define the automotive world in the years and decades to come.”
John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, says the company’s Waymo One fleet, “guided by the Waymo Driver, have now safely and reliably driven more fully autonomous miles than any other vehicle on the planet. Today, we’re expanding our partnership with FCA with the Waymo Driver as the exclusive L4 autonomy solution for this global automotive company. Together, we’ll introduce the Waymo Driver throughout the FCA brand portfolio, opening up new frontiers for ride-hailing, commercial delivery and personal-use vehicles around the world.”
FCA became Waymo’s first OEM partner in 2016. Since then, the two companies have worked closely to integrate the Waymo Driver into FCA vehicles. The partnership has led to the first commercial autonomous ride-hailing service, including the offering of fully driverless service to riders, as well as driving in dozens of cities across diverse geographies and challenging weather conditions.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) designs, engineers, manufactures, and sells vehicles across numerous brands: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Ram, and Maserati. It also sells parts and services under the Mopar name and operates in the components and production systems sectors under the Comau and Teksid brands. FCA employs nearly 200,000 people around the globe.
Waymo is a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. The Google Self-Driving Car Project began in 2009. The company’s Waymo Driver powers Waymo One, an autonomous ride-hailing service, as well as Waymo Via, a trucking and local delivery service.
To date, Waymo has driven more than 20 million miles autonomously on public roads across 25 U.S. cities and conducted more than 15 billion miles of simulation testing.
Written for dBusiness by R.J. King.