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Waymo self-driving minivan will start test drives this month

Posted: 5:49 PM, Jan 08, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-08 17:49:14-05
Waymo will be testing a new fleet of vehicles on public roads. (Getty Images)

Waymo will be testing a new fleet of vehicles on public roads. (Getty Images)

DETROIT — Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division, will start testing its new fleet of minivans on public roads in California and Arizona later this month.

The minivans, built in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler, are Chrysler Pacifica hybrids outfitted with Waymo’s own suite of sensors and radar.

In a speech at the Detroit auto show Sunday, CEO John Krafcik revealed that Waymo built the sensors, radar and software for the new minivans in-house.

Krafcik said the company felt the system would work better if it was developed specifically for self-driving instead of using off-the-shelf parts. He said Waymo was also able to significantly lower the cost of the system.

Krafcik reiterated that Waymo doesn’t plan to build its own cars, but provide self-driving systems to established carmakers or car-sharing services.