Google signed a partnership agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) to build self-driving cars. The partnership will initially focused on integrating Google’s self-driving car technology into 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivan prototypes. The tech giant will use the prototypes as test vehicles.
It is the first time for Google to share its self-driving car technology to a major automaker. The tech giant’s staff built a few two-person prototypes and modified several Lexus SUVs, currently serving as test vehicles.
A great learning opportunity
John Krafcil, head of Google car project said Fiat Chrysler is “totally aligned with what we need to do at this stage, which is build more vehicles and get more testing miles under our belt.” He added that the tech giant liked the “nimble and focused” nature of the engineering team of the automaker.
Krafcil also said the partnership with serve as “great learning opportunity for Google and Fiat Chrysler. According to him, “This is all in service of a key point, which is that it will more than double our fleet of cars and that means more testing miles and more opportunities for people to become familiar with their real-world capabilities.”
Google already logged 1.5 million miles testing self-driving cars in Arizona, California, Washington, and Texas. The tech giant recorded 17 minor accidents involving its test vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler found a “sharing of the minds” with Google
On the other hand, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, said, “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”
“This announcement is recognition of the fact we found a sharing of the minds with Google, but we cannot preclude someone else coming in,” added Marchionne.
The automaker’s partnership with Google is significant as it will be positioned ahead of the pack in the race to produce self-driving cars. Fiat Chrysler maintained a low profile when it comes to its efforts in developing autonomous-driving technology- which is considered the next big thing or differentiator in the auto industry.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and other major automakers have been discussing publicly its progress in developing autonomous-driving technology.
Google and Fiat Chrysler have been engaged in discussions for “for about a year,” according to Krafcil. Furthermore, he said the tech giant intends to work with many other partners in the future.