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Google begins fitting Fiat Chrysler minivans with self-driving systems

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According to some spy shots that have recently made their way to the web, Google may have ramped up its efforts towards providing us with a brand new, AI powered driver. The company has reportedly started attaching its self driving systems to Fiat Chrysler minivans. A series of photos obtained by Electrek, show around six such minivans in a Google facility in Mountain View, being fitted with the sensors and systems required to put them on auto pilot.

Google is certainly one of the pioneers of self-driving tech. However, as far as the number of miles on the odometer go, it has lately been lagging behind its competitors by a fair margin. Tesla for example, has managed to clock over 200 million miles, taking all the cars in its fleet into account. Google on the other hand, recently crossed the 2 million miles mark.

True, both these companies vary widely as far as their approach to self driving is concerned, and as such its not exactly a case of 2 million miles Vs 200 million. However, even making the necessary adjustments, the number of miles Tesla has managed as opposed to Google, is certainly much larger. Self-driving is all about machine learning and machine learning, as strange as it sounds, is all about practice. The more you drive, the more data is available for your systems to churn and convert into patterns and algorithms, leading to better and safer cars.

So yes, Google needs to get more miles under its wheels and the best way to do that is to get more vehicles on the road. The company has entered into a partnership with Fiat to get around 100 of these vehicles on the road, all fitted up with the company’s self-driving systems. Why the Chrysler though? I mean while a Tesla Model S with no one behind the wheel would look very impressive, a Chrysler Minivan though, you would be more likely to think that it was haunted.

Jokes apart though, the Chrysler is actually the perfect vehicle to put the abilities of Google’s self driving systems to the test. As the company itself said back in May, the Chrysler

gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors.

The Pacifica design of the minivan is also a pretty good fit for Google’s systems. The model chosen by the company is a rechargeable hybrid minivan that packs a 16 kWh battery and  is capable of providing you with 30 miles of range. Testing its systems on an electrical vehicle will mean that Google’s systems are ready to embrace the future of green vehicles as well.

The company is also using this as an opportunity to test smaller roof mounts that are commercialization-friendly. Meanwhile, addition of 100 new vehicles will provide a significant boost to Google’s capabilities. Mountain View’s fleet currently consists of around 24 Lexus Rx450h SUVs and 34 prototypes of its own design. Adding 100 Fiat Chryslers will significantly increase the number of miles it can eat up in a given span of time.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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