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Aurora, Fiat Chrysler In Deal To Develop Self-driving Vehicle Platform

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU) and self-driving technology startup Aurora have agreed to collaborate on developing self-driving commercial vehicles, the two companies said Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Through the proposed partnership, Fiat Chrysler or FCA and Aurora will integrate Aurora's self-driving platform, Aurora Driver, into FCA commercial vehicle lines.

"This partnership will further expand the scope of the Aurora Driver, allowing us to offer a variety of solutions to strategic customers in logistics, transit, and other use cases," Aurora said.

The new partnership comes just a few days after Fiat Chrysler withdrew its proposal to merge with the French car-maker Renault (RNSDY.PK, RNSDF.PK, RNT.L), saying that political conditions in France did not support the deal.

Automakers are joining hands with technology firms to develop electric and autonomous vehicles due to the high costs involved in developing and bringing these technologies.

Palo Alto, California-based Aurora was founded in 2017 by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, veterans of electric car maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and tech giant Alphabet Inc. (GOOG, GOOGL).

Aurora's investors include venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Greylock. Earlier this year, the company raised $530 million in a funding round backed by Sequoia and Amazon.

The company's self-driving platform Aurora Driver delivers Level 4 autonomy, and is composed of technology that is able to sense and navigate the environment without human intervention.

To date, the Aurora Driver has been integrated into six vehicle platforms - from sedans, SUVs, and minivans, to a large commercial vehicle and a Class 8 truck.

Aurora already has partnerships with other auto giants like Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor.

In May, Aurora had announced its plans to acquire lidar company Blackmore, located in Bozeman, Montana. Lidar is critical for developing a reliable self-driving system that can navigate the roads more safely than a human driver.

Last year, there were reports that Volkswagen attempted to buy Aurora as part of efforts to bolster its self-driving technology. Volkswagen reportedly held talks to buy Aurora, which was already its partner, only to be rebuffed because Aurora wanted to maintain its independence and work with multiple carmakers.

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