Jeep is looking to take self-driving cars off-road.
The automaker on Wednesday released a short video clip of autonomous prototypes testing in Moab, Utah. The clip shows a pair of Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrids with added sensors tackling some of Moab’s famous trails with no human at the wheel. Jeep was vague on where these tests might lead, though.
“These advanced off-road driving systems will help more customers in more countries around the world join and enjoy the adventure,” Jeep CEO Christian Meunier said in a statement. “These features and technology will have real-life applications on and off the trail in a wide range of driving conditions.”
Neither Meunier nor Jeep provided more detail on what those applications might be, or a production timeline, though. An autonomous driving system designed for off-road use would likely face fewer regulatory hurdles than tech intended for use on public roads, however.
While the Grand Cherokee models used for these tests are based on a legacy platform, Jeep parent Stellantis has said it plans to bake advanced driver-assist capability into its future EV platforms. In late 2021, the automaker announced new software systems to be introduced starting in 2024 in Stellantis’ four dedicated EV platforms. One, called STLA AutoDrive, promises SAE Level 3 capability, meaning hands-off, eyes-off operation in certain conditions.
The first confirmed Jeep models that will use one of the dedicated EV platforms, and thus potentially incorporate some of this software, are the Wrangler-esque Recon and the Wagoneer S. Both are scheduled to be unveiled later this year, with production due to start in 2024.
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