- fiat chrysler automobiles (fca) and waymo are adding the ram promaster to waymo's self-driving test fleet.
- the two companies' exclusive deal means waymo's driver level 4 autonomous system will be added to fca's product lineup when the software and hardware are ready.
- the ram promaster vehicles will be used to research delivery and other self-driving commercial solutions.
the road to autonomous driving is an extremely long journey. while some companies are going it alone, fca has decided teaming up with waymo is the best way to bring level 4 self-driving to its lineup. this means that, when the technology is ready, equipped vehicles can drive on their own without human interaction under certain circumstances. the automaker is starting with the ram promaster commercial van, but the technology will expand out to more consumer-oriented vehicles as ewll.
fca said it will use waymo's driver technology exclusively in its lineup when the technology is mature enough for public use. waymo has spent years working on its technology and has also teamed up with jaguar and polestar. in march, waymo announced that it was using jaguar i-pace electric suvs for self-driving test vehicles, and polestar recently announced that it is also working with waymo on an autonomous ride-hailing solution, although details about the deal are sparse.
waymo (a subsidiary of alphabet, the parent company of google) and fca have a history of working together. "our now four-year partnership with waymo continues to break new ground, incorporating the waymo driver, the world's leading self-driving technology, into our pacifica minivans," mike manley, ceo of fca, said in a statement. the deal would also include any vehicles under the newly named stellantis group if the psa and fca merger goes through.
by adding the ram promaster van to its driver program, the two companies are expanding beyond transporting humans to making deliveries. transporting goods using self-driving vehicles has gained traction in the past few months, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. still, the pull of creating a robotaxi service is just too great even for traditional companies like amazon, which purchased self-driving car startup zoox and will use the company to create a ride-hailing system.
waymo has been testing and running a self-driving van taxi service in phoenix since 2017 using fca's chrysler pacifica. the vehicles are geofenced into a 100-square-mile area and when a vehicle is confused by a situation, it can ping home base and a monitor can give the vehicle directions. the company is still years off from offering the technology in consumer vehicles, but fca wants to make sure when that happens, it's ready.