Autonomous Vehicles

Fiat Chrysler and Aurora team up on self-driving commercial vehicles

FCA will rely on the Aurora Driver platform, but no timeline has been laid out yet.

Here's a shot of Aurora's tech atop a Lincoln sedan in 2018. Odds are, its kit has become a fair bit smaller by now.

Aurora

Aurora is a startup that isn't trying to build its own self-driving car, but instead it wants to create a platform that it can then sell to automakers who lack the time, money or expertise to make their own. That's the idea behind Aurora's latest partnership announcement.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Monday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Aurora to set up a "powerful partnership," as FCA puts it, that will eventually develop and deploy Aurora-powered self-driving commercial vehicles for the automaker.

That's pretty much all we know for now. Aurora will provide its Aurora Driver hardware and software to FCA, which will put it into its commercial vehicle lines. There aren't any more specifics available, so it's unclear if it's destined for vans, trucks or something else. All we know for sure is that Aurora Driver promises Level 4 autonomy, which is conditional autonomy that's cleared for use in specific geofenced areas -- human drivers are still factors at this point.

"As part of FCA's autonomous vehicle strategy, we will continue to work with strategic partners to address the needs of customers in a rapidly changing industry," said Mike Manley, CEO of FCA, in a statement. "Aurora brings a unique skillset combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our approach to self-driving."

Aurora's been plenty busy in the last few years. Most recently, the startup made news for acquiring Blackmore, a lidar manufacturer. Prior to that, the group announced in February that it had received $530 million in Series B funding, led by a venture capital group that includes Amazon among its backers. In terms of other automakers, both Hyundai and VW have announced partnerships with the startup.

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