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PHOTO CAPTION: 2017 Chrysler Pacific electric hybrid - world's first plugin minivan.

Google, Chrysler Collaborate on Autonomous Minivan

In what could be a revealing strategic move, Google is partnering with Chrysler to integrate its self-driving vehicle technology into the carmaker's minivan.

Published: 13-May-2016

Up until now, Google has either converted or commissioned its growing fleet of autonomous vehicles, which include its little, steering wheel-less, two-seater (pictured below), as well as Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Now that fleet is about to include its first minivan, the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica electric hybrid featured above (note the plug-in port just in front of the driver door).

Unlike the Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the Chrysler agreement will bring engineers from the Auburn Hills, Mi. manufacturer together with Google's to create the world's first autonomous minivan. (The company recently featured its self-parking technology in the Pacifica in this 30-second TV ad.)

Chrysler will adapt the Pacifica to Google's self-driving system, with the latter integrating the required cameras, radar, etc., a first for both companies, suggesting that Google's longer term strategy is not to build their cars, but to integrate it with existing manufacturer products.

Google Self-driving car prototype

Headed Towards 2 Million Driverless Miles

Reportedly, on any given day there are a dozen Google X cars on the roads in Mountain View, CA, Austin, TX, Kirkland, WA, and Phoenix, AZ. To date the fleet has accumulate some 1.7 million miles as of March 2016. In that time, they've been involved in 11 accidents. According to a Virginia Tech study commissioned by Google, that translates into an accident rate for autonomous vehicles of "3.2 crashes per million miles, compared to the US national average of 4.2 accidents per million miles."

Of course, the technology still has many more miles to travel before it's foolproof. The Telegraph recently reported, "Google has revealed that humans have had to take the wheel of its driverless cars 341 times over 14 months to avoid accidents and software failures."

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