FCA, Aurora explore partnership to develop self-driving commercial vehicles

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Self-driving auto software startup Aurora said on Sunday it would partner with Fiat Chrysler to build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles, the latest collaboration with an automaker for the fast-growing Silicon Valley company.

The Aurora Driver is Aurora's self-driving platform that comprises the hardware, software, and data services that guide vehicles powered by it safely through the world.

"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 Aurora Co-founder Sterling Anderson. Neither company offered a time frame for when such vehicles would be on the road.

"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, in a statement.

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From an unannounced date, some of FCA's vans will be fitted with a set of technologies developed by Aurora, an American start-up founded just two years ago to create self-driving technologies. But the discussions collapsed last week after the French government, a major shareholder in Renault, demanded guarantees that the merged company would not cut jobs or close plants in France. Enthusiasm cooled after an Uber test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian a year ago. In the past Ford said it aimed to have driverless cars with no steering wheel and no pedals in mass production by 2021.

The deal is the latest for Aurora, co-founded by former Google auto executive Chris Urmson, and which has integrated its technology into sedans, SUVs, minivans and trucks.

The partnership is the latest in a steady stream for Aurora, which already has deals in place with Volkswagen, Hyundai and Byton.

News of the collaboration comes a few months after Aurora landed more than $530 million in Series B funding.

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