Stellantis used this year's National Autonomous Vehicle Day to offer a glimpse of its future generation of advanced off-road driving technology. That's a bit unexpected, considering that climbing the trails of Moab is something people do to prove they can overcome challenges and conquer the wilderness. Doing so without touching the wheel is no better than riding a fairground rollercoaster. Still fun, but not worth spending more than a few minutes of your time.
Developing an off-road autonomous driving system is unusual, but it could turn into something useful, given that Stellantis owns the Jeep brand. Stellantis claims that Jeep is at the forefront of developing automated off-road driving technology. The system was installed in two Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrids, which set off to Moab, Utah, to test the technology under the supervision of Neda Cvijetic, Head of AI & Autonomous Driving at Stellantis.
The company that owns the Jeep brand claims its autonomous-driving technology "can enhance the experiences of seasoned off-roaders, as well of customers who are new to driving the trail." Stellantis's autonomous driving technology will also be helpful in everyday driving situations, so it's not an exclusive off-road feature. It is, in turn, an exclusive Jeep thing.
Stellantis doesn't offer details about the new off-road autonomous driving system. Still, Christian Meunier, Jeep brand CEO, says the technology will have real-life applications on and off the trail in a wide range of driving conditions. The video presentation shows a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe climbing a hill both with and without a driver behind the wheel. This makes it less of a driver-assist system and more of autonomous driving technology. The system is smart enough to choose a suitable path considering the terrain and takes care of the driving. The video shows that the car can also be controlled from a tablet outside the vehicle.
Stellantis does a good job of confusing people about electric vehicles because the video ends with the message, "4xe, freedom is electric." As you probably know, despite having a battery that charges from the grid, the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe also has a combustion engine under the hood, which makes it a plug-in hybrid, not an electric vehicle.