A Soccer Parent's Dream: Self-Driving Minivans

Tired of toting the kiddos to all their practices and games? Get ready for the self-driving minivan.

Schlepping the kids to soccer or dance three days a week is practically a rite of passage for many suburban parents. It’s no wonder then that so many of us have dreamed of a day when cars could just magically transport the little ones without us.

Buckle your seat belts, parents: That time might be soon. After seven years of research, Google has spun off its self-driving initiative into a separate company called Waymo ,while adding 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to its fleet of test vehicles, according to an article on Futurism.com.

The self-driving transporters were built specifically for Waymo, by Fiat Chrysler in partnership with Google parent company Alphabet, so all the autonomous technology is not an add-on. Rather, the sensors, telematics and onboard computer power is as much a part of the actual vehicle as the standard electrical, powertrain and structural systems, the authors note. The special minivan took six months to design and build and will join Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars for public road testing.

While Google’s road to autonomous vehicles hasn’t always gone smoothly, the Futurism.com article says it’s touting this next generation as “a safer driver that is always alert and never distracted.”

Hmmm. Thankfully, my kids are old enough to be driving, so I can’t be tempted by the allure of a self-driving car service. But once the technology improves, I’m sure many parents will give at least some thought to anything that gets them out of being a perpetual chauffeur.

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