Fiat Chrysler pumps $30M into self-driving car test facility

September 6, 2018

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Wednesday that it spent $30 million to build a new facility in its Chelsea, Michigan, proving grounds facility to help it develop self-driving cars.

The self-driving car facility comprises about 35 acres on the sprawling 4,000-acre complex about 70 miles west of Detroit. The facility includes a dedicated high-speed self-driving car development track, a safety feature demonstration center, and a command center that will serve as its nucleus. FCA will begin using the facility later this month.

MORE: The 5 levels of self-driving cars explained

Much of the center is designed to replicate real-world infrastructure situations, such as varied lighting, on- and off-ramps like those found on interstates in the U.S., and tunnels.

FCA said in a statement that it the safety feature center will allow it to follow protocols and standards set by the IIHS and the NHTSA in Chelsea for self-driving cars.

The 6,500 square-foot command center includes technology to test vehicle-to-infrastructure equipment (V2I) like the system Audi now offers in many of its cars that can communicate with traffic control centers in some U.S. cities.

FCA hasn't been at the forefront of self-driving car development, but it did ink a substantial deal with Google-owned Waymo earlier this year that will see the automaker provide thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans to be used as self-driving test vehicles.

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