Google and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) may be working together on an autonomous ride-sharing service that could launch as soon as next year, according to a Bloomberg report. It would be an expansion of a partnership announced earlier this year that saw Google install its self-driving hardware 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans for testing.
In a event today, Google announced that it is spinning its self-driving project off into a separate company called Waymo, and Bloomberg suggested that the ride-sharing partnership could have been announced at that event, but it didn’t occur.
If Waymo and FCA team up on a ride-sharing service it would finally give Google’s long-running self-driving project a potential revenue stream and give FCA a foothold in the burgeoning self-driving market.
"We've completed the first versions of these cars and will get them on the road in the near future," said Waymo CEO John Krafcik, when asked about the Chrysler Pacifica his company has already received. "FCA has been a wonderful partner."
Krafcik emphasized today that Waymo is “not a car company” and that his firm is “not in the business of making better cars,” but is instead focused on “making better drivers.” An expansion of the partnership with FCA could allow Waymo to apply its hardware and software chops to build out the self-driving aspect of the project, while allowing Chrysler to do the nitty-gritty job of actually building automobiles.
Google has invested significant amounts of money into developing its own self-driving car, without wheel or pedals, and it was reported yesterday that Google was abandoning that strategy in favor of partnerships with existing automakers.
A number of FCA’s competitors, including both Ford and GM, have made significant moves in the ride-sharing world in the past year. Ford said it plans to have an autonomous car aimed at ride-sharing fleets available by 2021, while GM has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a partnership with Lyft to develop autonomous Chevys.
Google and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.