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Silicon Valley Startup Aurora to Work with Fiat Chrysler on a Self-Driving Platform

Silicon Valley Startup Aurora to Work with Fiat Chrysler on a Self-Driving Platform

Author: Eric Walz   

Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving startup Aurora Innovation Inc, co-founded by three industry veterans in 2017, today announced that it will supply automaker Fiat Chrysler with a self-driving platform.

The two companies said they signed a memorandum of understanding in which Aurora will supply its "Aurora Driver" fully bundled self-driving kit to FCA. The platform developed by Aurora includes an entire suite of hardware, including sensors, lidar, cameras, processors, GPS and mapping software necessary for autonomous driving.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

Aurora will help FCA prepare their vehicles with the interfaces the Aurora Driver requires to operate them autonomously. Aurora is developing a "level-4" autonomous system, meaning that the vehicle can sense and navigate the environment without human intervention.

FCA will install the Aurora hardware during the vehicle production phase.

FCA and Aurora will work together to integrate the Aurora Driver into FCA commercial vehicle lines, including Ram and Fiat Professional cargo van and truck models. This would allow for a variety of customized solutions for FCA's commercial vehicle customers, as online shopping patterns are creating logistical opportunities, such as autonomous delivery services.

"As part of FCA's autonomous vehicle strategy we will continue to work with strategic partners in this space to address the needs of consumers in a rapidly changing industry," said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. "Aurora brings a unique skillset combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our philosophy on self-driving."

Aurora said that its Driver autonomous driving suite of hardware and software has been integrated into six vehicle platforms so far, including  sedans, SUVs, and minivans, to a large commercial vehicle and a class 8 truck. Aurora plans to work with global automotive partners to help them build Aurora-Driver-compatible vehicles at scale.

In a blog post, Aurora wrote that "Partnering with FCA enables us to continue to expand on our strengths, capabilities, and resources as we work to broadly deliver the benefits of self-driving through the transportation ecosystem."

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Aurora co-founder Chris Urmson once led Google's self-driving car project, which is now known as Waymo.

Aurora was founded by three Silicon Valley veterans who previously worked at Google, Tesla and Uber. Aurora CEO Chris Urmson was a pioneer in developing Google's first self-driving cars led Google's early self-driving car program, which has now become Waymo.

Aurora's other two co-founders are Sterling Anderson, who serves as Aurora's Chief Product Officer, and CTO Drew Bagnell, who was a founding member of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG) in Pittsburgh. Anderson previously worked for Elon Musk at Tesla and led the team that developed Tesla's "Autopilot" autonomous driving technology. Prior to that, he led the design, development, and launch of the Tesla Model X.

"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 Anderson.

The partnership with FCA is the third major announcement from Aurora this year.

Last month, Aurora announced it aquired lidar company Blackmore. Aurora said that Blackmore's cutting-edge lidar technology will be instrumental in helping it develop safer self-driving technology.

In February, Aurora announced it secured an additional $530 million in its latest Series B funding round. Participating in the investment round was retail giant Amazon. The investment from Amazon marked the e-commerce giant's first entry into the self-driving car space.

The latest funding values Aurora at $2.5 billion and will help the company further develop its autonomous driving technology.


Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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