Chief executive Jon Krafcik promises "we're really close" to a public launch.

Google's Waymo has selected its maintenance partner as the company moves closer to launching its autonomous taxi service.

Automotive retail giant AutoNation will be responsible for maintaining the fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans, including "complex mechanical and cosmetic repairs."

The announcement does not clarify if AutoNation will train a specialized team of technicians to help diagnose and repair potential problems with the customized electronic systems and sensor array, or if Waymo will keep such maintenance in-house.

AutoNation suggests the agreement will cover future expansion as Waymo adds "additional brands" beyond the Pacifica. The retailer already has service technicians for dozens of brands spread across the country.

With plenty of extra attention focused on any glitches, Waymo apparently wants to make sure its fleet never breaks down for a simple car maintenance issue.

"These vehicles need to be in service for hundreds of thousands of miles, much more than personal-use vehicles, to make them economically viable," AutoNation CEO Michael J Jackson told The New York Times. "To do that, you have to do much more proactive, preventative maintenance than what a normal person would do on a car."

Waymo has not yet announced a specific public launch date, though CEO John Krafcik told Wired "we're really close." Despite early pilot programs focusing on a taxi service, the executive cautions that the company is still exploring alternative business models such as licensing the platform to automakers or developing self-driving trucks.