In recent years, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have shaken up the way we perceive public transportation. Offering an increased level of convenience and better prices than many cab services, ride sharing services let passengers schedule pickups through apps on their smartphones, which then provide detailed tracking information about how long it will take for their driver to arrive.
Given the success of Uber and Lyft, it’s no surprise that more companies are looking for ways to get in on the action. At the top of the list of existing businesses considering expanding into the ride sharing sector is tech giant Google, which recently announced it will be teaming with Fiat Chrysler to create a new ride sharing service of its own. What does this develop mean for ride sharing customers, and how will it affect your local Chrysler dealership?
Google Spins Off Autonomous Vehicle Division
When Google rebranded itself as Alphabet, part of the change was spinning off its “autonomous vehicle” division, which was given the name Waymo. It’s this division of Google/Alphabet that is working with Chrysler, for both the development of their cooperative ride sharing service and to create advances in autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.
Waymo and Chrysler plan to use a semi-autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan as the vehicle for the ride share service, which spokespeople for the company have said they envision will be used by consumers to run errands and commute to work.
The initial fleet for the new ride sharing service will be made up of more than 100 Pacifica minivans equipped with sensors and other new technology that will allow it to be partially self-driving. According to insider sources, the service could launch as soon as the end of 2017.
The Chrysler-Google Partnership
Despite Google’s omnipresence in the tech industry and its reputation for reliability, most auto companies have been reluctant to team up with Alphabet’s self-driving car division. For most car companies, fears that Google will exert too much control over the software that powers their cars’ systems outweighs the benefits that joining forces with the company might provide. Chrysler is the exception, being the first major car manufacturer to partner with Alphabet and Waymo.
In addition to the ride sharing service, the two companies plan to use their partnership to introduce new developments in the self-driving car race, which recently ramped up with ride sharing service Uber’s introduction of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. Currently, Waymo is installing new sensors on its fleet of Pacificas, a crucial step toward making them semi-autonomous.
Neither Google nor Chrysler has publically commented on the ride sharing service deal, so exact details on the program are few. Regardless of future developments, however, the fact that both companies are committed to both ride sharing and self-driving cars, and seem to be making major plans in regards to both, shows that the partnership between Chrysler and Google is likely to produce several exciting developments for ride sharing passengers and car owners in the near future.
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