Fiat Chrysler, Google partnering on self-driving prototypes based on Pacifica minivan

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Google and Fiat Chrysler are on the verge of signing their rumored partnership on self-driving technology, which should begin with several dozen Pacifica minivans being equipped as prototypes, a report said on Tuesday.

A deal could be signed as soon as today, sources informed Bloomberg. The vans should be deployed starting later this year as part of the first phase of the companies' broader project.

Notably, both companies will allegedly be free to cooperate with other firms on self-driving systems. For Fiat Chrysler, though, the deal may be an essential step in kickstarting its self-driving efforts.

In April, Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann suggested that his company should cooperate with businesses like Apple and Google, rather than try to compete. Google has reportedly been in talks with several automakers, though a deal with GM is said to have collapsed due to disputes over data and technology ownership.

It's unclear whether Google will ever sell a branded car, instead of just sharing its self-driving platform with others. Even if it did design its own vehicle, it would have to partner with other companies on manufacturing.

Apple is believed to be developing self-driving technology, but most likely for use in its own electric car. That product could roll out as soon as 2019 or 2020, but might initially lack self-driving options, and would still have to be manufactured by a third party short of massive investments in infrastructure and letting the secret out early.