Delphi has entered a BMW, Intel, and Mobileye co-operation for developing autonomous vehicle technology. The non-exclusive partnership is designed to speed up deployment of the technology across the industry through collaborative development.
IHS Markit Perspective:
- Significance: Delphi has joined a non-exclusive partnership with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye working to speed up the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle technology across the industry, according to statements from BMW and Delphi.
- Implications: Delphi brings integration experience with a variety of automakers and systems, as well as expertise for several components. Delphi is already working with Intel and Mobileye on other projects so its inclusion seems logical.
- Outlook: No financial details of the partnership have been disclosed, in line with earlier announcements about the programme. Adding Delphi to this partnership builds on work Delphi has already undertaken, both with Mobileye and on its own. The partnership's ability to develop and deploy this technology should be strengthened by the addition of Delphi as a system integrator.
BMW Group has announced that automotive supplier Delphi has been added as a development partner to an ongoing autonomous vehicle programme between BMW, Intel and Mobileye. The four partners are working to develop Level 3 through Level 5 self-driving technology for industry-wide use. In a statement, BMW said that Delphi had already provided a prototype computing platform to BMW and is working with Intel and Mobileye on perception, sensor fusion, and high-performance automated driving computing. "System integrators, such as Delphi, are critical for the go-to market strategy of the joint solution to reach multiple automotive OEMs quickly," said BMW's statement. "A key role for Delphi will be the integration of the solution delivered by BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye into OEM vehicle architectures. Additionally, Delphi may also provide required hardware components such as sensors as well as specific customisation efforts and applications for differentiation."
Delphi said in a statement that it would leverage its expertise in automated driving and system integration "in the development and initial deployment of [the group's] automated driving technology". Delphi also echoed BMW's statement on its role in integrating the solution delivered by BMW, Intel, and Mobileye. The partnership is non-exclusive and its members are looking to include additional integration and development partners.
Klaus Fröhlich, a member of the board of management of BMW AG for development, said in a statement that the co-operation was designed "from the very beginning … on a non-exclusive platform for this technology of the future". "With the onboarding of Delphi we significantly strengthen our development of the automated driving and do a future step in spreading this technology across the industry," he said. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said, "Adding Delphi as an integration partner will help to accelerate the introduction of autonomous cars on the streets from multiple carmakers and offer differentiation to customers." Mobileye's chairman, co-founder, and chief technology officer, Professor Amnon Shashua, said, “Collaboration and inclusion across multiple automakers and suppliers is the best approach to developing a safe, cost-efficient, and fast-to-market solution for autonomous driving. Delphi's expertise in the field, as well as long history of integrating complex systems, makes them a very appropriate choice to join this co-operation." Automotive News reports that the partnership is looking to spread costs of development, scale, data management, and automotive-grade validation across the industry to speed up the deployment of technology.
Automotive News also notes that Delphi and Mobileye have been collaborating with Intel on an autonomous system for commercial fleets. The report said that the expanded partnership would allow companies to share information about such independent projects. The report quotes Delphi CTO Glen De Vos as saying the projects are complementary. "It just makes sense to try to align those two to the greatest extent possible," he reportedly said.
Outlook and implications
No financial details of the partnership have been disclosed, in line with earlier announcements on the programme. Adding Delphi to the partnership can bring benefits from the company's work with Mobileye and on its own. The collaboration's ability to develop and deploy technology should be strengthened by having Delphi as a system integrator. Outstanding questions for commercialisation include which automakers will adapt the system developed by this partnership and which will develop their own (including leveraging key partnerships and acquisitions). The non-exclusive partnership format may allow automakers without resources for extensive development in this area to access autonomous vehicle technology more quickly.
Delphi has been an aggressive player in developing autonomous vehicle technology. The company announced plans in August 2016 to have an autonomous vehicle system production ready by 2019, developed with Mobileye. Delphi earlier announced a US coast-to-coast self-driving demonstration.
The non-exclusive nature of the partnership might lead to other automakers licensing systems the partnership develops as well as each company deploying the technologies within their own product development. The partners' focus on accelerating the technology's potential use by a variety of automakers brings benefits in cost as well as speed. Sharing development by combining expertise can provide a competitive advantage given the complexity of autonomous vehicle technology. Delphi's experience with integration and vehicle electrical architectures across the industry is essential to its role in this co-operation, as is its prior autonomous vehicle development work. Mobileye is working with several automakers, but lacks Delphi's years of work and breadth of experience. Delphi will also be free to leverage what it learns about system integration with other automakers and projects. Intel and Mobileye will also be able to continue to commercialise their technology.
Delphi's entry into the collaboration probably reflects its work on autonomous technologies with Mobileye and its push to lead in the area, including by recently spinning off its powertrain unit to tighten its focus.
Automotive News reports that Richard Rau, BMW AG's vice president of sensors, control units and software, said that more carmaker partners are in active discussions about joining the group in the coming weeks. The trade paper also quoted DeVos on the importance of sharing development with the wider industry. "We recognise how complex these systems are and, when you're talking about automated driving where the vehicle is in control, you have to have the most robust, best technology at every link in the chain of that platform," he reportedly said. "You're going to see a number of companies that are trying to do everything on their own or in a very closed system are going to really struggle."
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