Waymo to begin testing autonomous Chrysler Pacificas; Pixar offers a preview of “Cars 3”

DETROIT — Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, made a major announcement at the Automobili-D conference at the North American International Auto Show.  He said that 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans will begin road testing in Arizona and California later this month.

“Our mission is to make things safe and easy to move around.  That’s why we are committed at Waymo to build a better self-driving car.  The hybrid Pacifica is the most advanced car on the road.”

There are three unique sensors that complement each other.  They are:

  1. Resolution:  Resolution matters.  It can distinguish a person or a mural of a person.  We can tell which direction they are facing.  It has completely surround view.  It has the same kind of detail long range too.
  2. Vision System:  Vision System takes and reads a high resolution of the world like traffic signals and street signs.  It also detects brightness such as the sun.  Self-driving cars needs to drive in all lighting systems.
  3. Radar:  Waymo radar system has a 360 degree view and can detect objects hidden from the human eye.

“We have driven two million real world miles.  Recently we have been accelerating our miles; expecting three million miles in 2017.  This is necessary to refine our technology.  Driving has become smoother and more human like.  There are 1.2 million in deaths per year.  Twenty million people can’t drive.  To solve these challenges, we are bringing to market a self-driving platform while making it safe and easy for everyone.

Governor Rick Snyder appeared for a brief moment to say that this is the place to see the auto industry and the future of auto mobility.

Dan Gilbert says President-elect Donald Trump with his business experience will enhance the auto industry.  He also announced plans to build a skyscraper at the old Hudson site.

“The change here in Detroit is truly dramatic, unprecedented.  There is a lot of new businesses coming in.  Lots of entertainment; lots of hope for jobs.  However, the status report is still in progress and looking very favorable.  Downtown and the neighborhoods fuel each other.  I’m excited about the future,” says Gilbert.

“We can’t stay in one place.  We need growth.  We need jobs for everybody.  Five years ago, nobody was talking about this,” added Gilbert.  He talked about convincing companies to come here.  He doesn’t take large companies and make them move their headquarters here.  There has to be growth.  You are competing for brains and talent.  Detroit has a to of talent.

The Luminocity art project at Hart Plaza. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

What do I want people from around the world to take home with them?  To feel the soul of the city with the people who live here.

Gilbert also mentioned the Luminocity project which are 16 installations of light located in strategic places around the city.  One of them is located at Hart Plaza.

Sunday afternoon began with a presentation by John Lasseter, Pixar Animation’s Studio Chief Creative Officer.  Attendees enjoyed a sneak preview of “Cars 3.”

Lasseter noted that the place where we started in 2001 was at Cobo Hall here at the North American International Auto Show.  “Cars” is the biggest franchise of the Disney Company.  “Cars 3”  is coming out to theaters on June 16.

A life-size version of Lightning McQueen was driven on stage.  The car will remain on display at the auto show.

Jay Ward, Creative Director,  talked about the new car in the movie “Cars 3” called Jackson Storm.  “Detroit is the first place we came for research for the new film,” says Ward.  “We needed a female car.  I introduced Cruz Ramirez.  It’s not a race car but a strong female character,” added Ward.

Jay Shuster, Production Designer, says he does hundreds of sketches for every character. “People think we begin on the computer.  That’s not so.  We begin drawing old school.  Then comes the computer,” says Shuster. We got a design direction for “Storm” and it is different than Lightning McQueen.

The 2017 North American International Show continues on Monday with several automaker press conferences and new vehicle debuts.  AmericaJR will be there to cover it all.


Jackson Storm will debut as a new character in “Cars 3” hitting theaters this June. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


John Lasseter, Pixar Animation’s Studio Chief Creative Officer, discussed the third film of the franchise. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert talked about the Trump presidency and his plans to build a skyscraper on the former Hudson’s site. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Overview of the all-new Automobili-D technology symposium at Cobo Center. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder welcomed media and other VIPs to the 2017 NAIAS. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


John Krafcik is CEO of Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


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