Waymo and Fiat Chrysler team up on automated delivery trucks
Waymo's self-driving technology will soon be available in small commercial trucks, not just robo-taxi minivans, under a new agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Why it matters: Stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted the exploding opportunity for automated delivery, even as robo-taxis seem further away. Waymo and many other self-driving tech developers are shifting their focus to prioritize the commercial trucking market.
Driving the news: Waymo and FCA announced an expansion of their existing partnership on Wednesday with important benefits for both companies.
- The Waymo "driver" — the moniker used to describe its self-driving technology — will be integrated into FCA’s light commercial vehicles, starting with its Ram ProMaster van.
- Those self-driving commercial trucks will be deployed by Waymo's new Via delivery business and potentially "a broad range of global commercial customers," the companies said.
- FCA noted that Waymo will also deploy its technology across the carmaker's lineup, including personally owned self-driving cars.
- The deal will include PSA Group, the French parent of Peugeot, which is merging with FCA under the new corporate name, Stellantis.
Context: Waymo has been using Chrysler Pacifica minivans to develop and test its self-driving technology for several years and now has more than 600 deployed, including in its fledgling Waymo One ride-hailing service, in suburban Phoenix.
The intrigue: It's unclear how the exclusive deal with Waymo will affect FCA's existing agreement with rival Aurora Innovation to develop and deploy self-driving commercial vehicles.
- Meanwhile, FCA continues to work with BMW and Intel's Mobileye on highly automated technology that would enable limited features like extended, hands-off highway driving.