FCA US will be investing $30 million into it’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, for a new Autonomous Driving and Advanced Testing Facility. The facility will allow the automaker to further development and testing of a number of autonomous vehicle and advanced safety technologies the company has been working on.
The Chelsea Proving Grounds facility will join a list of autonomous driving facilities that have been constructed in the past few years around the state of Michigan.
The Chelsea Proving Grounds opened in 1954. Having undergone numerous expansions, it covers nearly 4,000 acres, boasts a road-surface total of 100 miles and features off-road replicas of the Rubicon and other challenging trails. The site is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year, with about 900 people being currently employed at the proving grounds.
“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,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Chief Operating Officer, NAFTA region. “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 facility will allow for testing of various levels of autonomy and enables the company to evaluate FCA vehicles using test protocols from third parties, such the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP), plus additional automatic electronic brake test simulations.
The autonomous highway-speed track offers the capability to develop autonomous vehicle systems under a wide range of challenging environments, including obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions, and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.
The command center covers more than 6,500 square feet and houses computer equipment vital to GPS capability and test vehicle communication.
The Advanced Driver-assistance Systems (ADAS) facility accommodates testing of advanced iterations of automatic emergency braking and automated parking technologies on a new 35-acre paved test facility.
In June, FCA announced it would be partnering up with not only Waymo, but BMW and Aptiv in continuing a joint development of autonomous technologies.
Waymo has already been working with FCA on 600 Pacifica Hybrid minivans, equipped with Waymo’s autonomous vehicle technology. Waymo has ordered an additional 62,000 units to be delivered by 2021. FCA and Waymo also announced that had begun discussions on developing a Waymo-equipped fully self-driving vehicle for FCA retail customers.
The partnership with BMW will include FCA engineers embedded with BMW engineering teams near Munich, Germany to share resources including data for validation and reliability testing and share underlying investments to develop autonomous technology focused on Level 3 systems.
Aptiv and FCA will expanding collaboration of autonomous technology studies and development projects in the future. The partnership with Aptiv also includes them producing the Level 2 systems for FCA 2020 model year launches.