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Fiat Chrysler taps Aurora for autonomous technology

SFGate Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Just days after breaking off merger talks with French carmaker Renault, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reached an agreement to source self-driving technology from Palo Alto startup Aurora Innovation.

Founded in 2017 by former executives from Google, Tesla and Uber, Aurora is developing hardware and software to enable cars to drive themselves. It has test vehicles on the streets of San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh. Fiat Chrysler said it planned to put the “Aurora Driver” system in commercial vehicles like delivery vans. Neither company offered a time frame for when such vehicles would be on the road.

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

The agreement, whose financial terms were not disclosed, underscores the heavy emphasis automakers are placing on self-driving cars for their future. It also puts Fiat Chrysler in position to join the race to field autonomous vehicles, alongside General Motors, Ford, Waymo, Uber and others.

In the past, Fiat Chrysler had invested little in autonomous technology, other than supplying minivans that Waymo is using in its large test fleet of self-driving taxis.

Fiat Chrysler had proposed a merger with Renault in part to enable the two companies to share the substantial cost of developing self-driving cars and electric vehicles. The two companies also hoped the combination would strengthen their operations in Europe, where increasing environmental standards are forcing car companies to invest heavily in new technology.

A merger of Fiat Chrysler and Renault would have had an annual production of 8.7 million vehicles a year, enough to move past GM as the world’s third...

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