Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will add up to 62,000 more cars to Alphabet Inc's autonomous driving unit Waymo, the companies said on Thursday, as part of Waymo's plan to roll out a robotaxi service in the U.S. later this year.
This venture between the two companies builds upon a previous commitment, announced in January, to deliver thousands of vehicles to Waymo's driverless ride-hailing service. Vehicle delivery is expected to begin in late 2018.
FCA US and Waymo also announced today that they are beginning discussions about the use of Waymo self-driving technology, including potentially through licensing, in a FCA-manufactured vehicle available to retail customers.
The collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate Waymo's fully self-driving system into the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, leveraging each company's individual strengths and resources. Since 2016, FCA and Waymo engineers have continued working together to support Waymo's expansion and to evolve the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan with self-driving technology.
The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are equipped with Waymo's self-driving system, including a hardware suite and software honed over six million miles of on-road testing.
Alphabet's self-driving unit said in March it will also add up to 20,000 Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc electric vehicles to its upcoming autonomous fleet.
The announcement comes on the day when Japan's SoftBank Group Corp said it would invest $2.25 billion in General Motors Co's self-driving unit.
Large tech companies, established automakers and well-funded startups including Uber Technologies and Tesla are all stepping up efforts to gain pole position in the self-driving cars market, which is expected to carry the automobiles industry into the next era.