FCA Inks Deal With Aurora Innovation For AV Tech


DETROIT, MICH.–Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it has entered into a partnership with self-driving systems provider Aurora Innovation.

The two companies will work together to develop and deploy autonomous technology on commercial vehicles. The move comes on the heels of FCA’s failed attempt to merge with Renault in hopes of leveraging EV and AV technology.

FCA officials say they’ll explore the possibilities of installing Aurora’s system on the Ram and Fiat Professional brand vehicle lines, with Ram the initial focus.

The company says that self-driving vehicles that are developed in the partnership could reach the road in the next three to five years. “Aurora brings a unique skill set combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our approach to self driving,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a press release.

The alliance is important to FCA, which is widely seen as being behind its rivals in both EV and autonomous driving technology and innovation. The company aimed to leverage tech from a merger with Renault that it proposed two weeks ago, as the French automaker and its partner Nissan are well ahead of FCA in both categories. But the merger proposal was scuttled last week.

The partnership is the first for FCA to directly bring autonomous technology into its products.

Aurora is a 2-year-old startup based in Palo Alto, Calif., founded by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell, who played significant roles in the development of autonomous technology at Google, Tesla and Uber.

Aurora’s tech is a combination of hardware, data services and software that promises to enable Level 4 automation–without human intervention or oversight.

The company closed a $530 million funding round in February that included investment from Amazon.

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.