Google’s self-driving division Waymo has announced it will be retiring the Firefly car, the nearly iconic pod-like vehicle that was manufactured in-house to experiment.
Waymo is now moving to mass produced vehicles, like the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. It received 600 minivans from Fiat Chrysler last year and is in the process of outfitting the vehicles with Lidar, sensors, and artificial intelligence.
“Now that we’ve moved to our next phase — letting members of the public use our self-driving cars in their daily lives — we’re ready to retire our fleet of Fireflies and focus on integrating our latest technology into vehicles like our new self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan,” said YooJung Ahn, lead industrial designer and Jaime Waydo, lead system engineer, in a blog post.
“By focusing on mass-produced vehicles like the Pacifica minivan, we’ll be able to bring fully self-driving technology to more people, more quickly.”
A move to a more collaborative approach
The move to a mass-produced vehicle shows the change at Google from wanting to build the hardware, software, and underlying services to a more collaborative approach, where it works with Fiat and ride-sharing service Lyft to improve transportation.
Firefly has been the main vehicle of choice for Waymo over the past two years, as it transitioned away from the Lexus RX450h SUVs that made up most of its fleet.
The automobile had no steering wheel and had a speed limit of 25 mph. Waymo says that it will continue to use Fireflies for ceremonies and a few will be at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.