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Delphi's latest project to advance automated-driving technology sees the company partner with BMW for on-the-road testing of vehicles that have all sensors, including Lidar, fully integrated into the vehicle's production bodywork (all images: Delphi).

Delphi adds to autonomy arsenal

Strengthening its credentials as a go-to supplier for full-capability automated-driving systems, Delphi announced a minority-stake investment in and commercial partnership agreement with Innoviz Technologies, an Israel-based startup company developing a proprietary solid-state Lidar technology that Delphi believes shows promise for the long-range sensing autonomous vehicles are said to require for safe and accurate self-driving capability.

Innoviz’ MEMS (micro-electro mechanical systems)-based design is “an innovative way to do Lidar that’s interesting to us,” Dephi Automotive senior vice president Glen De Vos told a small gathering of reporters when Delphi announced the business partnership.

De Vos said Lidar sensing “is absolutely necessary” for SAE Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous operation, where the vehicle has complete control of the vehicle at all times. “Along with radar and vision technology, Lidar is an essential component to Delphi’s automated-driving perception suite,” he added.

In related background discussion with reporters, De Vos said Delphi at the moment envisions different types of Lidar as being the best way to generate the a complete and accurate “view” of the environment around an automated vehicle. Lidar such as that being developed by Innoviz is best-suited for the long-range, forward-looking sensing required for higher-speed operation. So-called “flash” Lidar or some other type of photo-optical technology is better for generating wide-angle views, helping to ensure identification of objects closer to vehicle’s corners and sides.

“We’ve concluded you need different kinds of Lidar for different uses,” he said.

De Vos added that the Innoviz Lidar technology still is in the development phase, but shows potential not only because of its performance capabilities but also to reduce costs to a point that is acceptable for consumer vehicles. “It gives you the performance—but at a price point that’s good for automotive,” he asserted. He said a broad cost goal is for Lidar sensors to drop to the $250 range from today’s cost that is closer to $1,000. He added that Delphi has an eventual cost target of $100 or less for individual Lidar sensors.

“We want to have access to what we think are the best technologies,” De Vos said in explaining Delphi’s investment in and partnership with Innoviz, which was founded less than two years ago. “Ultimately, you’ve got to get to a solid-state Lidar (technology) for production cars.”

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