Waymo has expanded its partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which began by modifying the Chrysler Pacifica for self-driving capabilities, into the light commercial vehicle space with the Ram Promaster van. Through the recently signed exclusive strategic agreement, the Promaster will achieve Level 4 autonomous driving with the addition of Waymo Driver technology.
Level 4 autonomous driving, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, allows the vehicle to control driving functions under certain conditions. In a Level 3 scenario, the driver would have to be ready to take the wheel when alerted, while in Level 5, the vehicle is able to command itself under all conditions.
“Our now four-year partnership with Waymo continues to break new ground,” said FCA CEO Mike Manley. “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. With this next step, deepening our relationship with the very best technology partner in this space, we’re turning to the needs of our commercial customers by jointly enabling self-driving for light commercial vehicles, starting with the Ram ProMaster.”
The strategic partnership is expected to grow across FCA’s portfolio, which also includes the Ram Truck Division.
“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,” Manley said.
Waymo started as a spin-off from Google in 2009, and in 2017, Waymo Via was created to focus on trucking and local delivery applications. Overall, Waymo has accrued 15 billion miles in simulations and 20 million miles on public roads. Waymo Driver makes it all possible through a configuration of cameras and radar and lidar sensors that allow integrated vehicles to sense other objects up to 300 yards away.
“FCA was our first OEM partner, and we’ve come a long way together,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said. “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.” On the heavy-duty trucking side, Waymo has worked with Paccar to develop self-driving Peterbilt 579 Class 8 trucks.