10 sep 18

FCA invests $30m in self-drive test facility

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV announced last week it has invested $30 million into a new autonomous driving and advanced testing facility at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in southeast Michigan.

The all-new facility, which begins testing programmes this month, features a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, 35-acre safety-feature evaluation area and a high-tech command centre.

“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 Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Chief Operating Officer, NAFTA region. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”

So far, FCA has relied mostly on self-driving technology from partners rather than developing their own. Earlier this summer, FCA was in talks with Google parent Alphabet's Waymo to use the latter's self-driving systems in autonomous vehicles that FCA would sell.

Chelsea Proving Grounds

Chelsea Proving Grounds opened in 1954. It covers nearly 4,000 acres, boasts a road-surface of 100 miles and features off-road replicas of challenging trails like the Rubicon. The site is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year and employs around 900 people.

The track offers Fiat Chrysler the capability to develop autonomous vehicle systems under a wide range of conditions, including obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.

Image: self-driving Chrysler Pacific in Waymo livery (source: Waymo)

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck