Fiat Chrysler to Spend Millions on AV Research

FCA upgrades the Chelsea Proving Grounds 1 photo
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan will get a major upgrade this September, following an over $30 million investment made by the carmaker.
The company says the facility has been equipped to handle development and testing of autonomous vehicles and advanced safety technologies, with work on various projects expected to begin by the end of this month.

The millions spent by FCA has led to the creation of a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, a 35-acre safety-feature evaluation area, and a high-tech command center. They will all be used as means to test various levels of autonomy in cars.

“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said in a statement Mike Manley, FCA CEO.

“Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”

As per the official announcement, there’s no telling what cars will be tested there exactly, as up until now FCA has been almost absent from the AV segment.

Whatever those cars will be, FCA says it will be testing them based on protocols from third parties, such the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and the European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP).

The track on which the cars will be put through their paces includes obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions, and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.

FCA is currently one of the biggest suppliers of cars for companies that develop autonomous driving technologies, but has not yet come forward with any groundbreaking technology of its own.

At the beginning of June, FCA received a huge order for 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, which are to be included by Waymo in its upcoming fleet of driverless taxis.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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