Delphi's contribution the the self-driving future:
With more than 150,000 employees worldwide Delphi is a big name in the automotive industry. The car parts producer supplies elements for most vehicles on the planet, from fuel cells to rubber sealing to driver interfaces and infotainment systems.
By extension Delphi is also contributing to the driverless industry, supplying sensors, vehicle communication technology and anti-collision software to big manufacturers, most famously Audi and General Motors. Delphi is not looking to build its own driverless vehicles (yet), but a driverless system, which they named Roadrunner. In addition Delphi has a fleet of altered self-driving Audi’s which it exposes to on road testing, one of which has become well-known in the industry. A Delphi self-driving car is in the making.
In 2015 Audi raised quite the awareness on their ‘piloted driving’ concept when they drove 550 miles autonomously from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas (on both highways and in urban areas) arriving at the annual CES exhibition. A couple of months later (March 2015) another Audi was used, in the biggest self-driving test in car/human history. This time it was partner company Delphi who was behind the initiative. Delphi’s Audio SQ5 looked like a normal production car with some Delphi stickers attached, but in reality it was stored with 20 driverless sensors and multiple other tools bundled as Delphi’s Roadrunner (or Delphi Drive), the Delphi self-driving car test project.
Roadrunner used an Nvidia Tegra K1 chip to power their Lidar sensor and homebuilt radar and camera system (RACam), sophisticated GPS and collision detection systems. In total 3400 miles were driven between San Francisco and New York (similar to Audi they finished the test at a big fair, the New York Auto Show). Approximately 99% of the trip the car was in control, but Delphi did not include mapping software into the project (which is essential for most urban driving) so most of test occurred on big roads and in 1% the engineers on board had to switch to manual driving. Focusing on driverless technology to service but not replace humans in the near future, Delphi’s focal point is making this switch as fluent and safe as possible.
Not only was this the longest self-driving test ever, it also included states which had never seen driverless car testing (autonomous driving is not legal in all US states, Delphi got specific permission from all. This alone is a milestone) and it gave Delphi to opportunity to test its equipment in endurance through different weather- and road conditions.
Not including mapping in the Roadrunner project showed that 2015 was Delphi’s year of figuring out anti-collision, automatic lane and car-2-car positioning. In the sector these fall under V2V or vehicle-to-vehicle communication. 2016 was meant to fulfil the bigger picture as Delphi started experimenting with V2E technology (vehicle-to-everything). Together with Australian based Cohda Wireless (so also an outsider as Delphi is a UK-based company) they produced the MK5, a benchmark in making vehicle communication unanimous, mobile and high performing. This machine not only communicates with the surrounding cars or lanes but with traffic indicators and road signs, with buildings and floor plans, pedestrians, cloud servers. Anything equipped with an MK5 would be allowed to talk to one another.
Not long after introducing the their vehicle communication solutions, Delphi already found a buyer. And no small fish. General Motors decided to install the V2E technology in its Cadillac CTS and therefor probably in the luxury CT6 (release date 2017). General Motors has conveyed a serious commitment into becoming one of the first car manufacturers to deliver on the self-driving car promise. Buying Delphi’s V2E technology will make sure the CTS automatically reads traffic lights, sees blind corners or alerts the car if a pedestrian strays onto the road. GM expects a V2E system might eventually add about $300 to a car's cost, but Cadillac is shooting to start it in a $3,000 options package bundled with their Super Cruise.
Last updated: 27/06/2016