But now the two have brokered a deal to combine their respective strengths into a single vehicle platform.
The deal, struck between Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Fiat Chrysler, will see 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans equipped with Google’s sensors, computers, and software to enable autonomous driving.
The move marks the first collaboration between Google and an automaker, with Google having previously bought pilot vehicles for the program off the showroom floor from various manufacturers, or demonstrating the technology in its own custom-built platform (below).
The addition of 100 Pacifica vans will effectively double Google’s self-driving fleet, with the first of the new vehicles expected to be ready before the end of this year.
“In the coming months, our team will collaborate closely with FCA engineers,” Google said in a prepared statement.
“This experience will help both teams better understand how to create a fully self-driving car that can take you from A to B with the touch of a button.”
While the vehicle’s will be engineered and built by Chrysler, the self-driving system’s will be engineered by Google, and installed into the vehicles by Fiat Chrysler’s engineering team.
The Google-Chrysler vans will undertake trial runs and Google’s private test track in California before being trialled in real-life situations in Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Mountain View, California and Kirkland, Washington.
Until this point, Fiat Chrysler has been seen to be off the pace in its development of autonomous technologies. However, with FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne offering to partner with other firms - carmakers, or tech firms - the new agreement puts Fiat Chrysler back in the autonomous race.
“The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions,” Mr Marchionne said.
The vehicles will be built at the same factory in Ontario as the regular Pacifica, with modifications conducted offline.
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