Think about the car of the future. What comes to mind? Probably something sleek, cool, and downright futuristic, right? Well, Google’s self-driving future car is about to look nothing like that.
We’re not talking about the cool, functional prototype shown in late 2014, which sort of looks like a Volkswagen Beetle with a little dial on the roof. No, Google’s next tester car for the self-driving project will actually be a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.
While Google’s new self-driving cars might not be especially cool, the partnership with Fiat Chrysler – the first time Google has worked with a car maker on the project – will allow them to get a lot more tester cars on the road very quickly. In fact, the 100 initial vans they’re providing will more than double the current driverless fleet.
Fiat Chrysler will custom-build the vans to allow Google to more easily implement its self-driving computer and sensors, which should help get the cars on the road even faster.
“In the coming months, our team will collaborate closely with FCA engineers. 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,” reads the blog post on the announcement. “Collaborations like these are an important part of realising the potential of self-driving technology to improve road safety and make transportation more accessible for millions of people.”
Google says they hope to have the first of them on the road by the end of this year, and that the larger vehicle design will allow them to test new ways for passengers to enter and exit, as well as use features like driverless doors to increase accessibility for the program.