Fiat Chrysler is lagging behind the rest of the automotive industry when it comes to autonomous vehicle development, and CEO Sergio Marchionne is hoping that the company’s new partnership with Google will help it close the gap. First announced on Tuesday, this partnership will see Google’s self-driving technology integrated into 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans in order to create a test fleet, which will be the first time Google has collaborated with an automaker in this fashion. Google’s autonomous vehicle development has been a solo effort for the most part, but the company needs to have some partners in the automotive industry if it wants to actually bring its products to the market, and it looks like Fiat Chrysler is one of them.
Google, which has been leading the push to develop self-driving cars, is now joining with an established automaker, Fiat Chrysler, in a bid to advance and expand its effort. On Tuesday the companies announced that they would work together to integrate Google’s self-driving technology into 100 minivans made by Fiat Chrysler. The vehicles will not be sold to the public, but will become part of a test fleet. The companies also plan to conduct engineering operations at a location in southeastern Michigan. John Krafcik, chief executive of Google’s self-driving car project, said the collaboration “will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.” While almost all automakers are working on automated driving technologies, Google has jumped to the forefront, building working models and testing them regularly on public roads near its Silicon Valley campus. Google has been working mostly on its own and at times has shunned traditional automakers. But now the company is seeking links with the industry establishment. Last week Google formed an alliance with Ford Motor to promote regulations that favor fully autonomous vehicles. Fiat Chrysler, a key Ford rival, is widely seen as trailing on autonomous driving technology. Its chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, said he hoped the partnership would help both Fiat Chrysler and Google better understand how to make self-driving cars a reality.