Delphi Automotive is spending as much as $450 million to expand its autonomous driving technology capabilities by acquiring Boston-based nuTonomy.
The deal, which has been quietly put together during the past two months, calls for Delphi to pay $400 million now with the nuTonomy team able to earn an additional $50 million in incentives. It also doubles the number of people working on automated driving technology, according to Glen De Vos, Delphi’s chief technology officer.
However, the plans call for nuTonomy to remain in Boston and to operate as an independent company instead of merging with Delphi’s Ottomatika autonomous vehicle software group. De Vos said it was important that the two groups continue on separate paths, and share best practices and innovations where “it makes sense.”
The deal expands the resources Delphi possesses in this highly competitive sector and, more importantly, it accelerates the timeframe for rolling out new tech for commercial and, eventually consumer, uses, he said. The company had planned to debut its commercial tech in 2020 or 2021 in Singapore, but now expects that to occur in 2019.
(Delphi spins off powertrain operations, adopts new name. For the story, Click Here.)
Developing the commercial side of autonomous driving technology is critical, according to De Vos.
“This is the area where automated driving has really accelerated,” he said during the press conference announcing the deal. “This is really the tip of the spear for the automated driving space. It’ll feed over to consumer space.”
Delphi will have AD operations in Boston, Pittsburgh, Singapore, Santa Monica, and Silicon Valley. nuTonomy will continue to be based in Boston, where both companies currently operate AMoD pilot programs.
(Click Here for details about Delphi’s partnership with Innoviz.)
By combining efforts with nuTonomy in Boston, Singapore, and other pilot cities around the world, Delphi will have 60 autonomous cars on the road across three continents by year-end, with the goal to further accelerate global fleet expansion and technology development.
The global expansion is one reason why nuTonomy’s founders sold the company to Delphi rather than an automaker, said Karl Iagemma, nuTonomy co-founder and CEO, but also the ability to grow beyond the software needed for the vehicle represents a bigger challenge.
“Partnerships are important,” he said. “Putting the right partnerships in place to help us succeed (is critical). This was a chance to join forces with one of the other leaders in the space and sees the world the same way we do.”
(Delphi, BlackBerry partner on self-driving tech. For the story, Click Here.)
The acquisition of nuTonomy is the latest in a series of investments that Delphi has made to expand its leadership position in the new mobility space, including the acquisition of the aforementioned software developer Ottomatika as well as data service companies Control-Tec and Movimento. The company is also staking out a new identity as later in the year, it will split into Delphi Technologies and Aptiv, which will focus on autonomous technologies.