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Delphi Raises Autonomy Bet With Stake in Lidar Startup

Executive Summary

Delphi expects to integrate Innoviz Lidar sensing equipment and software with its systems to provide automakers with a wide range of autonomous systems technologies capable of operation at high speeds.

TROY, MI – Global supplier Delphi Automotive makes a strategic investment in Innoviz, an Israeli startup seen close to a commercial-grade Lidar system necessary to make fully autonomous a driving reality.

U.K.-based Delphi does not disclose the value of its minority stake in the 2-year-old Innoviz, but says the two companies target 2020 for a production Lidar system capable of SAE Level 3 autonomy. Delphi considers Level 3 autonomy a point in the self-driving ladder where the driver is disengaged from the driving process.

Delphi expects to integrate Innoviz Lidar sensing equipment and software with its in-house systems to provide automakers with a wide range of autonomous-systems technologies capable of operation at high speeds and into the Level 4 range. Level 5 is full autonomy.

Delphi, which began one of the industry’s largest scale autonomous-driving exercises in Singapore this year with an eye on deploying a self-driving prototype for the island nation’s public transportation system by 2019, has made a number of strategic investments in the space in recent years. In 2015 the company took a stake in Silicon Valley-based Quanergy, another startup focused on Lidar technology.

But whereas Quanergy’s Lidar creates a 360-degree image of the car’s immediate surroundings to help guide a car autonomously, the Innoviz technology looks much farther down the road to permit self-driving cars at high speeds. Both are solid-state systems, which are considered the most sophisticated Lidar technologies and most feasible for an automotive application.

Glen De Vos, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Delphi, says fixed Lidar systems from both companies could end up in a Delphi product. However, he also credits Innoviz for creating haardware and software with a high degree of capability.

“It is long range with the right resolution (images), and it’s a technology that can get down to a commercially acceptable price,” he tells journalists here during a deep dive into Delphi’s  autonomous-driving plans.

Neither the Innoviz or Quanergy agreements are exclusive, De Vos says, because Delphi wants the companies to gain additional OEM business to drive up scale and ratchet down costs.

“Delphi shares our vision for making vehicles smarter and safer,” says Omer Keilaf, co-founder and CEO of Innoviz, which like many other high-tech, automotive startups emerging from Israel have spun out the country’s Ministry of Defense.

“By challenging the conventions of Lidar design, we are able to develop a Lidar solution that delivers superior performance at a reasonable price and in a much smaller footprint – three factors that are required to help autonomous driving achieve mass commercialization.”

jamend@wardsauto.com

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