Waymo self-driving minivan will start test drives this month

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 8: John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, debuts a customized Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid that will be used for Google's autonomous vehicle program at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on January 8, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.  Approximately 5000 journalists from around the world and nearly 800,000 people are expected to attend the NAIAS between January 8th and January 22nd to see the more than 750 vehicles and numerous interactive displays. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 8: John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, debuts a customized Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid that will be used for Google's autonomous vehicle program at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on January 8, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Approximately 5000 journalists from around the world and nearly 800,000 people are expected to attend the NAIAS between January 8th and January 22nd to see the more than 750 vehicles and numerous interactive displays. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DETROIT (AP) — 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.

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