Fiat Chrysler and a self-driving tech startup have signed an agreement to make self-driving commercial vehicles.
We hear a lot about how self-driving cars are going to be the future of mobility, especially when it comes to Tesla turning their entire fleet into self-driving taxis to make their owners big bucks. But something that could be just as lucrative (or possibly even more lucrative) would be automated delivery vans.
The “last mile,” as its called in the logistics business, involves getting packages from sorting centers to the final customer. Whenever you get that Amazon package delivered straight to your door is basically the last mile issue being solved by a person delivering packages out of a van.
But if that person could be replaced by a robot delivery van, then it would be a huge windfall for companies like UPS or Amazon. It’s also far more likely to arrive before self-driving taxis as they can be used to deliver parcels and packages on low-traffic routes.
Self-driving tech startup Aurora is on the cutting edge of this issue and specialize in turning older vehicles into self-driving ones. They’ve been able to use their self-driving technology, called Aurora Driver, to successfully convert six different vehicle platforms into self-driving ones, from compact crossovers to class 8 trucks.
Sunday’s announcement revealed that FCA will partner with Aurora to handle another type of vehicle platform: commercial trucks.
“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 Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley. “Aurora brings a unique skillset combined with advanced and purposeful technology that complements and enhances our philosophy on self-driving.”
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed, nor was the exact nature of the commercial vehicle to be built. FCA already provides Chrysler Pacificas to Google self-driving company Waymo, so we expect something of a similar nature with Aurora.