BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with the intention for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to be the first automaker to join them in developing an autonomous driving platform for global deployment.

The development partners intend to leverage each other's individual strengths, capabilities and resources to enhance the platform's technology, increase development efficiency and reduce time to market. One enabler to achieve this will be the co-location of engineers in Germany, as well as other locations. FCA will bring engineering and other technical resources and expertise to the cooperation, as well as its significant sales volumes, geographic reach and long time experience in North America.

"In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers," said FCA chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne.

"Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective."

In July 2016, BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye announced that they were joining forces to make self-driving vehicles a reality by collaborating to bring solutions for highly automated driving (Level 3) and fully automated driving (Level 4/5) into production by 2021. Since then, they have been designing and developing a scalable architecture that can be used by multiple automakers around the world, while at the same time maintaining each automaker's unique brand identities.

The cooperation remains on-track to deploy 40 autonomous test vehicles on the road by the end of 2017. It also expects to benefit from leveraging data and learnings from the recently announced 100 Level 4 test vehicle fleet of Mobileye, demonstrating the scale effect of this collaborative approach.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, said: "Fiat Chrysler joining BMW, Intel and Mobileye to develop an autonomous driving platform illustrates the kind of relationships likely to be commonplace in the future. No single company has the expertise or the financial and human resources to develop future vehicle technologies on their own. Fiat Chrysler, in particular, has made no secret that it is looking to outside partners for help."

Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Dealer.com, added: "Marchionne continues to position FCA as a compelling player in a competitive industry. In the past 48 hours we've heard rumors of Chinese interest in buying the automaker, and now we know FCA is actively working with major tech players like Intel and Mobileye to develop self-driving capabilities. This comes after an existing alliance with Waymo to supply minivans for autonomous testing. FCA may not be as big or well-funded as GM, Toyota or Volkswagen, but Marchionne is giving the company a viable stake in the autonomous vehicle race, which further elevates FCA's desirability among potential partners or suitors."