As vehicles increasingly become showcases for technology on wheels, autonomous driving is becoming closer to a reality – especially for commercial purposes. We’ve been seeing ride-hailing services and delivery companies testing out self-driving vehicles for a while now. Such Level 4 (L4) autonomous vehicles are being developed by Waymo, who recently inked a deal with automaker FCA to expand their use of their technologies.
Since 2016, FCA and Waymo have been working together and testing autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans using their Waymo Driver technology. Now, Waymo will work exclusively with FCA to develop and test autonomy in light commercial vehicles like the Ram ProMaster, with the goal of enabling self-driving delivery vehicles.
Over time, FCA hopes to offer Waymo’s L4 autonomy across more vehicles in their product line. L4 autonomy means that a vehicle will be able to handle the majority of driving situations without human intervention, including navigating through crowded urban areas and construction zones. However, these vehicles still require the presence of a human in the event of an emergency, and still have regular driving controls available in case a person needs to take over. We’re still quite a way from Level 5, which is considered the holy grail of autonomy – vehicles that would require no driver at all.