Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' U.S. division has invested more than $30 million at its Chelsea Proving Grounds to further the development and testing of autonomous vehicles and advanced safety technologies. FCA begins testing programs there this month.


Self-driving cars will be tested starting this month at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chelsea Proving Ground
near Chelsea, Michigan, 55 miles west of Detroit. (Photo courtesy FCA US)



The newly rehabilitated historic facility in southeast Michigan features a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, a 35-acre safety-feature evaluation area and a high-tech command center.


“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said Mike Manley, CEO Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Chief Operating Officer for the company's North American region.


“Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio,” Manley said.


The autonomous highway-speed track enables development of autonomous vehicle systems under a wide range of challenging environments: obstacles, tunnels, varying road lighting conditions, and interstate-style exit and entrance ramps.


The command center covers more than 6,500 square feet and houses computer equipment vital to Global Positioning System (GPS) capability and test vehicle communication.


The facility accommodates testing of advanced iterations of automatic emergency braking and automated parking technologies on a new 35-acre paved test facility.


The facility will allow for testing of various levels of autonomy and enables the company to evaluate FCA vehicles using test protocols from third parties, such the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP), plus additional automatic electronic brake test simulations.


Currently in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year, Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG) opened in 1954. Having undergone numerous expansions, it now covers nearly 4,000 acres, has a road-surface total of 100 miles, and features off-road replicas of challenging trails.


Employing roughly 900 people, CPG was home to one of the first wind tunnels owned by an automaker. It was also the site of several speed records, including stock-car racer Buddy Baker’s 203 miles-per-hour run in a Dodge Charger Daytona. The 1969 achievement marked the first time a factory-built car had exceeded the 200-mph threshold.


FCA US LLC is a North American automaker based in Auburn Hills, Michigan and a member of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) family of companies.


FCA US is building upon the historic foundations of Chrysler Corp., established in 1925 by industry visionary Walter P. Chrysler and Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (F.I.A.T.), founded in Italy in 1899 by pioneering entrepreneurs, including Giovanni Agnelli.


It designs, manufactures, and sells or distributes vehicles under the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram, FIAT and Alfa Romeo brands, and maintains the SRT high-performance designation.


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)

September 7, 2018