Days after abandoning merger talks with France’s Renault, Fiat Chrysler is shifting its focus to a partnership with Silicon Valley tech startup Aurora to get self-driving commercial vehicles on the road.
“As part of FCA’s autonomous vehicle strategy we will continue to work with strategic partners in this space to address the needs of consumers in a rapidly changing industry,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “Aurora brings a unique skillset combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our philosophy on self-driving.”
Aurora will supply its self-driving platform to FCA, including computers, sensors, software and data services to enable vehicles to drive themselves safely. The partnership is focused on FCA’s line of commercial vehicles, including Ram and Fiat Professional models, and leverage its experience designing and building them, as well as its extensive base of suppliers and customers.
Aurora, which has raised $620 million from investors including Amazon, is led by three marquee names in autonomous tech including CEO and cofounder Chris Urmson, the former head of the Google Self-Driving Vehicle project. The company is already working on projects with Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor and Byton, a China-based maker of electric vehicles, and last month used some of its newly raised capital to buy Blackmore, a maker of laser lidar sensors that help robotic vehicles see their surroundings.
Applications of autonomous technology for trucks and commercial vehicles has accelerated in the past year, led by companies ranging from robot semi-truck startups TuSimple, Embark and Starsky to developers of automated delivery vehicles including Nuro, Udelv and others.
FCA has been the supplier of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans used in the on-demand robotic ride service Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo operates in suburban Phoenix.