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AUTOMATIC AUTOMOTIVE COLLABORATION

08-08-2017
by 
in 

Auto parts and electronics company Delphi Automotive is joining with Israeli software maker Mobileye to develop the building blocks for a fully autonomous car, in a project that they hope to be completed in as little as two years.

Delphi and Mobileye plan to build a complete autonomous driving platform that they will sell to automakers worldwide. They promise to demonstrate the technology at January's Consumer Electronics Show and have it ready for production in 2019.

Delphi already has taken an autonomous Audi on a cross-country drive, while Mobileye makes software that processes data from cameras and other sensors.

The companies didn't give many financial details but said they would share development costs for a total combined investment of a few hundred million dollars.

Mobileye will provide its next generation chip that processes signals from multiple sensors, as well as software used for real-time mapping. Delphi will contribute automated driving software algorithms and controls for camera, radar and laser sensors.

The partnership is the latest as old-line auto companies combine their strengths with technology companies as they try to stay competitive on autonomous cars.

Last week ride-hailing company Uber announced a partnership with Volvo and acquired a San Francisco startup called Otto to work on autonomous vehicles. Uber said it plans to test autonomous cars by carrying passengers in a few weeks in Pittsburgh, with human backup drivers. In January General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft, Uber's prime competitor, and it bought Cruise Automation, a West Coast autonomous software company.

In addition, Google has partnered with Fiat Chrysler to work on autonomous minivans, and Volkswagen has invested $300 million in Uber competitor Gett. BMW, Intel and Mobileye also have a partnership, and Ford recently invested $150 million in laser sensor maker Velodyne. It also acquired Israel-based SAIPS for its expertise in artificial intelligence and computer vision, and invested in Berkeley, California-based Civil Maps.

Unfortunately, this news comes hot on the heels of a more worrying development in the news: self-driving cars rely on a set of sensors and interpreting software that can be fooled surprisingly easily. 

Stories have recently broken that suggest road signs, in particular Stop signs, can be rendered unreadable by smart cars with as little as a few strips of tape, or advanced weathering. While this problem will doubtless be overcome with contextual information, it serves as a sobering reminder that our current systems and approaches to road regulation and safety aren't always as compatible with self-driving technology as we'd like. 

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