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Waymo Set to Challenge Michigan Winter

Operating on snowy, icy roads the big challenge for autonomous tech.

by on Oct.26, 2017

Winter weather creates challenges for humans, and it can overwhelm autonomous vehicles.

There are already hundreds of autonomous prototypes cruising the nation’s roadways, and that number could soon climb into the thousands, thanks to a bill rapidly moving through Congress. But, for now, the vast majority of those vehicles are operating in warm weather climes like Phoenix and Silicon Valley.

The real challenge will be finding ways to make autonomous and fully driverless cars and trucks function in cold weather environments, experts stress, where things like lane markers may be obscured by road and ice.

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So, Waymo, the Google spinoff generally considered one of the leaders in self-driving technology, says it will begin testing in Michigan over the winter using some of its newest models, specially modified versions of the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid.

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Waymo to Unveil Autonomous Chrysler Pacifica at NAIAS

Division leader Krafcik tweets news about appearance.

by on Dec.21, 2016

A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, modified for Waymo, shown driving autonomously.

Waymo, the newly renamed Google autonomous vehicle division, will pull the wraps off its latest self-driving vehicle prototype, a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, during the opening day of the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Monday confirmed it had delivered 100 of its Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans to Waymo, which will now have them modified to run autonomously. When they go into operation early next year they will more than double the size of the Google spinoff’s test fleet.

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“As we get fully self-driving cars ready for the road, we’ll need more types of vehicles to refine and test our advanced driving software,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a tweet.

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FCA Delivers Google’s 100 Autonomous Minivans

Project will push autonomous testing into tougher environments.

by on Dec.19, 2016

A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, modified for Waymo, shown driving autonomously.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has finished building 100 minivans that will be used as part of the latest test program by Waymo, the newly renamed autonomous vehicle unit of Google.

Produced at FCA’s assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids still must be retrofitted with the sensors and control systems needed to let them operate hands-free. They are expected to go into operation early in 2017, joining the numerous other vehicles Waymo is testing, including bubble like “Google Cars” produced by Detroit’s Rousch Engineering.

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“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. Fiat Chrysler’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement announcing the latest milestone.

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