Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles' Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG) is home to a new multi-million dollar autonomous technology testing facility. The automaker announced on Wednesday it has invested $30 million in the new facility, which begins testing this month.
While CPG spans nearly 4,000 acres, the new autonomous testing area covers more than 35 acres and includes a safety-feature evaluation center, a command center, and a highway-speed track. Each portion of the new test facility will allow FCA to test various levels of autonomy, advanced-driver assistance systems (ADAS), and develop automated features for future vehicles. The facility will help hone some automated and self-driving technologies FCA laid out in its most recent five-year plan—the final plan developed under the late FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Specifically, the highway-speed track will give engineers the chance to test automated features at highway speeds (duh), and the track portion will include a range of obstacles for future technology. Cars and under-development technology will face varying road lighting conditions, tunnels, and both on and off ramps designed like the U.S. Interstate system.
In addition, the facility will handle evaluations based on global safety regulations. FCA said test protocols from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the government's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and the European New Car Assessment Program will all be employed at the proving grounds.
Finally, the command center spans 6,500 square feet and features the latest technology to test vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications and other computer equipment. Many automakers have hinted at future plans to roll out V2I capability, but the first major adoption comes from Audi and its Traffic Light Information system. The system connects with a city's signal infrastructure and displays when a light will turn from green, to yellow, to red. It also includes a timer for the light to change.