The first few prototypes believed to be from a fleet of Google's self-driving cars – the Chrysler Pacificas – were reportedly spotted in Mountain View California recently. The Pacifica 2017 is Chrysler's new plug-in hybrid minivan, chosen as one of the premier car models by Google to develop in its self-driving fleet in partnership with Fiat Chrysler.
According to a 9 to 5 Google report, Alphabet is currently testing a fleet of nearly 100 Pacifica minivans with a new set of sensors to try out its self-driving system. The prototypes are the biggest addition to Google's existing self-driving fleet, which currently consists of 24 Lexus Rx450h SUVs and 34 prototypes of its own design.
One of the key reasons Google chose the latest Pacifica model is that it offers a plug-in hybrid option equipped with a 16 kWh battery pack that allows an all-electric range for 30 miles. Apart from that the 2017 Pacifica boasts of more than 100 in-built features like a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision alert. The special fleet to be used by Google will most likely have more automated controls on board.
While Google has been developing its fleet of self-driving cars for years now, it has not yet run public trials like Uber or reached anywhere close to Tesla's 222 million miles driven on autopilot in a year. Last month Google's fleet barely passed the two million miles mark. However, the company has maintained that it does not want to rush the launch of its self-driving cars unless it is fully sure about its safety and viability.