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One small step for man, one giant leap for autonomous vehicles! As of September 6th, 2018, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has officially announced that $30 million will be invested on several improvements to their autonomous vehicle testing facilities. Those upgrades will assist in improved testing and the evaluation of self-driving vehicles at the Chelsea Proving Grounds in Southeast Michigan.
Within the announcement, there are three major upgrades to its Chelsea Proving Grounds test track in Chelsea, Michigan. For starters, a 6,500 square-foot command center will be designed for external control and tracking of prototype autonomous vehicles via computer monitoring systems. Secondly, a test track consisting of tunnels, obstacles, on-and-off ramps, and different lighting conditions, will be utilized for highway-speed testing specifically for autonomous vehicle prototypes. Third, a 35-acre paved testing area for parking and emergency braking systems will also be designed.
"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," explained FCA CEO Mike Manley. "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 Chelsea Proving Grounds facility has relied heavily on partnerships with Uber and Google subsidiary Waymo to develop the hardware and software that self-driving vehicles utilize. Back in May of 2018, FCA announced that it would deliver up to 62,000 additional Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to Google’s automated driving technology company, while also making Waymo’s tech available in consumer vehicles via a licensing deal.
The Chelsea Proving Ground facility will allow for various levels of autonomy to be tested, while also enabling the company to evaluate FCA vehicles utilizing test protocols from third parties like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP). After opening up in 1954, the Chelsea Proving Grounds has undergone many expansions. Comprised of nearly 4,000 acres, 100 miles of road-surface, and off-road replicas of challenging trails, the Chelsea Proving Grounds is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year.
As previously mentioned, in May 2018, FCA announced that it would deliver up to 62,000 additional Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to use for Waymo’s self-driving fleet. Not only that, but Chrysler is also contributing an additional 20,000 compact cars from Jaguar Land Rover.
"Fiat Chrysler Automotives is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,” Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.”
This is remarkable news for people that are tired of traffic or having to commute to work. Someday, millions of people won’t have to struggle with such daily sieges.
The world of self-driving automation is continuously evolving and modern society is starting to accept it now more than ever. At NowCar we offer a hassle-free way of purchasing the vehicle of your dreams. Stay updated with more Waymo news on NowCar Social Media.