FCA to partner with Aurora on self-driving commercial vehicles

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
Patterned after its tie-up with Waymo LLC using Pacifica minivans, parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is partnering with Aurora to develop self-driving technology paired with the automaker's Ram commercial vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to partner with Silicon Valley self-driving car startup Aurora to develop autonomous commercial vehicles.

The partnership would pair Aurora's Aurora Driver platform with Fiat Chrysler commercial vehicles to give them the ability to drive without human intervention. Fiat Chrysler would not offer details on how the vehicles would be sold or managed. 

The automaker is also partnered with Google parent Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC to provide that technology company with Chrysler Pacifica minivan mules that can be outfitted with Waymo's suite of hardware and software to give the vans self-driving capabilities.

"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," FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a statement. "Aurora brings a unique skill set combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our approach to self-driving."

The Aurora partnership aims to give Fiat and Ram commercial customers options for autonomous vehicles. It's a move other Detroit automakers are making, too. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are working separately on autonomous vehicles that could move either people or goods. 

Ford and Argo AI, the Blue Oval's autonomous-driving partner, have teams working with businesses in cities around the country to figure out the best way to use autonomous vehicles to deliver goods. 

"We are thrilled to forge a partnership with FCA US to develop a meaningful business model for delivering the benefits of self-driving commercial vehicles," said Sterling Anderson, Aurora co-founder and chief product officer.

A Fiat Chrysler representative would not say whether the autonomous vehicles would be part of a fleet controlled by Fiat Chrysler, or if they would be sold to be operated by a third-party. The companies plan to develop a business plan.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau