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Fiat Chrysler joins BMW in Intel's self-driving super group

Fiat Chrysler joins BMW in Intel's self-driving super group


“Scalable architecture” expected to provide fully autonomous tech for automakers by 2021

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The partnership between BMW, Intel and Mobileye for self-driving technology has lured another automaker into the fold. 

On Wednesday, the group announced an agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to join in the development of a semi-autonomous and fully autonomous technologies for production vehicles with the German automaker and the technology companies. It also marks a significant move for FCA in keeping pace with other automakers in the self-driving stakes.

This news follows reports FCA could be sold to a Chinese automaker

“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne in the release. “Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.”

The news follows a report Monday from Automotive News that FCA – which owns Chrysler, Jeep and other brands – received an offer from a Chinese automaker to buy substantial pieces of the firm that includes brands such as Fiat and Jeep. FCA has already partnered with Waymo in 2016 with Chrysler Pacifica minivans that have subsequently been sent out on the road, but its work in self-driving research and other mobility experiments has generally paled against crosstown rivals Ford Motor Company and General Motors. 

The year-old BMW/Intel/Mobileye tie-up set a goal to bring Level 3 and Level 4/5 self-driving technology to production vehicles by 2021. To implement what the partnership calls a “scalable architecture” for self-driving tech, it’s hoped FCA’s North American presence, wide reach of plants, and sales volume will be an asset.  

“The future of transportation relies on auto and tech industry leaders working together to develop a scalable architecture that automakers around the globe can adopt and customize,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said. “We’re thrilled to welcome FCA’s contribution, bringing us a step closer to delivering the world’s safest autonomous vehicles.”

The partnership promises 40 self-driving test vehicles out on public roads by the end of 2017

Part of the scalable tech includes the ability to tailor the system to different brands and characteristics, according to the release. That may be put to the test now that the systems will now have to work in both offroad-ready Jeeps as well as track-ready BMWs, and everything in between.

By the end of 2017, the partnership says it will send 40 self-driving test vehicles out on public roads, as well as 100 Level 4 self-driving vehicles destined for the U.S., Europe and Israel that were promised earlier this month.

While FCA may still be looking for partners or a new parent, whichever company gets involved may soon have access to some ambitious technology.