Intel's self-driving supergroup has added another member to the team: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The partnership, which already includes BMW, Intel and Mobileye, has ambitious plans to get autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021, and FCA's inclusion is likely to make that goal more achievable.
FCA already has a decent chunk of autonomous expertise under its belt -- it partnered with Waymo (formerly Google) in 2016, adding 100 self-driving Pacifica minivans to the Waymo fleet -- but compared to its rivals the group lags behind. The new partnership gives the company access to the research and resources it needs to keep pace in the field.
But FCA brings something useful to the table, too. Scalability remains an issue for autonomous vehicles -- that is, making the technology work with different makes and models. FCA owns a number of very different brands, including Chrysler, Fiat and Jeep, so the partnership can now work towards autonomy across the board, from Jeeps used off-road to Fiats designed for zooming around cities.
The partnership aims to have 40 self-driving test vehicles on public roads by the end of 2017 -- a small step towards its grander plans to have Level 3 and Level 4/5 self-driving cars in production by 2021. FCA made a smart move getting involved at this stage -- no doubt other manufacturers will soon be looking for a piece of the action as well.