Sci-tech

Self-driving vehicle race ramps up as Delphi buys NuTonomy

Self-driving vehicle race ramps up as Delphi buys NuTonomy

NuTonomy had previously revealed plans to launch a fully commercial autonomous vehicle (AV) service in 2018, while past year in Singapore it beat Uber to launch the world's first public self-driving taxi service.

"Our mission has always been to radically improve the safety, efficiency, and accessibility of transportation worldwide", noted NuTonomy cofounder and CEO, Karl Iagnemma.

A self-driving auto built by Delphi Automotive in Mountain View, Calif. Delphi is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive parts.

The multi-million deal is the latest in a string of investments by Delphi created to get self-driving cars on the road as soon as possible.

Delphi said Tuesday it bought startup nuTonomy for $400 million. "When we thought about the best way to get our technology deployed at scale, we realized it was by partnering with a company like Delphi". That number will double with NuTonomy's 110 employees, 70 of whom are scientists or engineers.

Prior to the acquisition, nuTonomy had raised a total of $19.6 million from backers like Ford chairman Bill Ford, Samsung Ventures, and Highland Capital Partners.

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Boston-based nuTonomy was spun out of a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013.

"That's an area that nuTonomy has really focused on where Delphi has not", DeVos said. However, it became the first to deploy the first public trial of a self-driving auto service. It has about 20 self-driving cars there. In 2016, Delphi announced it would launch a small test fleet of self-driving taxis in that country through a partnership with the Singapore Land Transport Authority. In a similar spirit to General Motors' acquisition of Cruise past year, this deal unites a company on the vehicle manufacturing side with an upstart that's been focused on the autonomous driving software side of things.

"For a global software system that has to work in a lot of difference places, not just one, the ability to collect data in different geographies is pretty powerful", Iagnemma said.

"The combination of the nuTonomy and Ottomatika AD teams, along with Delphi's industry-leading portfolio of perception systems and smart vehicle architecture solutions, further enhances our competitive position as the industry's most formidable provider of autonomous mobility solutions", said Delphi's president and chief executive Kevin Clark.

"We think this is the tip of the spear for automated driving", De Vos said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.