Delphi putting driverless cars on French roads

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Delphi Automotive PLC is teaming up with a French public transportation operator to put fully self-driving vehicles on the road in France.

Transdev and Delphi plan to roll out driverless ride-service shuttles and cars in the coming months in two French cities. Two taxis will be deployed for testing this year in Rouen, Normandy. A shuttle van will run between a railway station and the university district of Paris-Saclay. They will run on fixed routes and feature a human monitor on-board.

If the partnership with Transdev plays out as planned, it will put a small number of shuttles without a driver or human monitor on the road some time next year.

The partnership will move aggressively toward truly autonomous vehicles with no driver, said Yann Leriche, Transdev’s chief performance officer.

“Our goal is to not have a driver in the vehicle as soon as possible...,” Leriche said.

In that scenario, vehicles would be monitored from a central location and could be taken over remotely if necessary. Delphi officials believe the project would be the first to regularly put fully self-driving vehicles on public roads.

“While the pilot (programs) are starting out with two cars and the shuttle, the expectation is we will grow that...,” said Glen DeVos, Delphi’s chief technology officer. “The investments we make here are to really enable the commercialization aspect. The pilots are there to validate the approach and the technology.”

Vehicles in the program are piloted by the Centralized Sensing, Localization Planning automated driving system developed by Delphi and Mobileye, the Israeli camera and sensor system manufacturer. The system uses radar, Lidar and cameras to find its way and avoid trouble.

Transdev runs buses, shuttles, taxis and trains. It has 200 contracts for operating transportation services in the U.S. and Canada. Through the partnership, Delphi officials will determine where similar self-driving programs might be launched in the U.S.

Delphi’s Product News Manager Scott Fosgard described the partnership with Transdev as “something we haven’t seen before” — a “partner to help tap commercial markets.”

For Delphi, it’s the latest agreement in a succession that began several years ago with the aim of putting the auto supplier at the center of the autonomous vehicle game. Company officials have said they have transformed from a parts company to a technology company.

A month ago, Delphi spun off its powertrain business, enabling the company to intensify its focus on autonomous vehicle efforts and the technology that supports them.

Besides Mobileye, Delphi’s partners include:

■Silicon Valley-based computer chip-maker Intel.

■Valens, the Israelo developer of high-speed semi-conductors, or “chip-to-chip” technology, producing connectivity speeds six times faster than the current industry standard.

■Rosenberger Hochfrequenztechnik GmbH & Co., a German company specializing in data transmission and ethernet connectors.

■Otonomo, an Israel-based company that develops marketplaces for data collected by automakers.

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