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Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car

Waymo and Fiat Chrysler expand autonomous vehicle partnership

Waymo LLC and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) are expanding their autonomous vehicle partnership to commercial vehicles, and FCA will develop wholly self-driving vehicles exclusively with Waymo going forward, the companies stated on Wednesday.

Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc, and FCA said they will work together to develop autonomous light commercial vehicles for moving goods, beginning from the integration of Waymo’s self-driving technology into Ram ProMaster vans, which FCA sells worldwide.

Waymo’s Waymo Via autonomous goods delivery unit will utilize vehicles co-developed with Fiat Chrysler, the companies stated.

Self-driving vehicle companies and automakers have been moving investment and engineering to delivery and other commercial uses of self-driving vehicles, betting that moving goods will offer a quicker route to profits than overcoming the technical, social, and regulatory obstacles to moving people.

Fiat Chrysler is putting an end to its work on autonomous commercial vehicles it started in 2019 with startup Aurora. Aurora is set to continue its use of Chrysler minivans in its test fleets, and stated in a statement that it “looks forward to deploying our self-driving solution on FCA’s passenger and commercial vehicles”.

In a blog post, Waymo and FCA said they will work together on “level 4” autonomous driving, a reference to a Society of Automotive Engineers classification that defines such vehicles as able to drive themselves and taking action on their own if a dangerous situation takes place or the system fails.

Waymo has been collaborating with FCA since 2016 to integrate its self-driving vehicle system, the Waymo Driver, into automobiles such as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

The expanded partnership with FCA will cover “ride-hailing, commercial delivery, and personal-use vehicles around the world,” Waymo Chief Executive John Krafcik said.

FCA’s CEO, Mike Manley, said that the automaker aims to deploy Waymo’s technology “across our entire product portfolio”. The companies didn’t say when new, autonomous vehicles will be introduced.

FCA is also managing its partnerships with BMW and Intel Corp to develop autonomous driving technology.

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