Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) US has announced that it has invested more than US$30m at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in southeast Michigan to further the development and testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and advanced safety technologies.
FCA’s all-new facility, which begins testing programs later this month, features a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, 35-acre safety-feature evaluation area, and a high-tech command center.
FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG) opened in 1954, and having undergone numerous expansions, it now covers nearly 4,000 acres, boasts a road-surface total of 100 miles (160km) and features off-road replicas of the Rubicon and other challenging trails. The site is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year, and employs approximately 900 people.
CPG was home to one of the first wind tunnels owned by an auto maker, and was also the site of several speed records, including a 203mph (326.7km/h) run by a Dodge Charger Daytona in 1969, which marked the first time a factory-built car had exceeded the 200mph threshold.
FCA US has dedicated its all-new facility for the testing of autonomous driving, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), advanced safety technology, and assessment to national and international third-party safety ratings. The facility will enable testing of various levels of autonomy and enables the company to evaluate its vehicles using test protocols from third parties, such the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the USA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP). The ADAS facility also accommodates testing of advanced iterations of automatic emergency braking (AEB) and automated parking technologies on a new 35-acre paved test facility, plus additional automatic electronic brake test simulations.
The autonomous highway-speed test track offers the capability to develop autonomous vehicle systems under a wide range of challenging environments, including obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions, and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.
The 6,500ft² command center houses vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications equipment for connected vehicle trials, facility control and monitoring, computer equipment vital to GPS capability and test vehicle communications, together with full test vehicle support.
“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful roll-out of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said Mike Manley, FCA’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer for its NAFTA region. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables us to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”