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FCA US Investing $30 million in Autonomous Testing Facility

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【Summary】Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US announced today that it has invested more than $30 million at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in southeast Michigan to further development and testing of autonomous driving, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and other advanced safety technologies.

Eric Walz    Sep 05, 2018 10:59 AM PT
FCA US Investing $30 million in Autonomous Testing Facility

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US announced today that it has invested more than $30 million at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in southeast Michigan to further development and testing of autonomous driving, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and other advanced safety technologies.

FCA began testing at the all-new facility this month. The site features a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, a dedicated 35-acre safety-feature evaluation area and a high-tech command center. The 6,500-square-foot command center houses vehicle-to-infrastructure communication (V2I), GPS capability and test vehicle support.

"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."

The facility will allow for testing of various levels of autonomy, including a track that allows testing at higher speeds, and enables the company to evaluate FCA vehicles using test protocols from third parties, including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), plus additional automatic electronic brake test simulations.

The recently completed 35-acre paved test facility accommodates testing of ADAS, including automatic emergency braking at highway speeds and automated parking technologies.

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A autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivan being tested by Waymo

The autonomous highway-speed track offers the capability for FCA to develop autonomous vehicle systems under a wide range of challenging environments in a safe environment. The highway track including obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions, and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.

The Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG) first opened in 1954 after Chrysler purchased 52 parcels of farmland three miles south of Chelsea, around 55 miles west of Detroit. It covers nearly 4,000 acres, boasts a road-surface total of 100 miles and features off-road replicas of the Rubicon and other challenging trails.

The proving grounds were updated over the years. In the late 1960s, the company added a impact simulator building, emissions lab, followed by a crash-test site, skid-traction area, and even a wind tunnel—one of the first wind tunnels owned by an automaker.

FCA joins Michigan-based General Motors and Ford Motor Co in a push to develop and advance driverless technology. All three U.S. automakers are testing in the state. General Motors is testing autonomous driving at the American Center for Mobility near Ypsilanti.

The ACM is one of the nation's biggest testing grounds for self-driving cars. The 500 acre site, which opened last year, surrounds a former GM transmission plant. Ford is also testing at the ACM, along with Toyota and Hyundai.

FCA is supplying Waymo with thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans for its upcoming robotaxi service. In May, FCA US and Waymo, the self-driving arm of Alphabet, announced they will expand their partnership with an agreement to add up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo's self-driving fleet.

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