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Delphi joins forces with Mobileye for self-driving system by 2019

The automotive supply companies say their new product will accelerate the time to market for a complete automated driving technology.

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    Kaushik Raghu, Senior Staff Engineer at Audi, takes his hands off the steering wheel while demonstrating an Audi self driving vehicle on I-395 expressway in Arlington, Va., in July. Autotechnology supply companies Delphi and Mobileye announced that they plan to bring to market by 2019 what they are calling the 'first turnkey fully autonomous driving system for automakers.'
    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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A new partnership could bring the first fully autonomous driving system to market by 2019.

Delphi Automotive and Mobileye announced Tuesday that they are joining forces to build a system for automakers to easily and quickly integrate into their production.

The planned system will include radar and LiDAR sensors, real-time mapping features, and a myriad of cameras that will allow customers to adopt level 4/5 automation, the highest categories of autonomous driving in a set of standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers International. But the system will retain a steering wheel and break and gas pedals so a human driver can still take control of the vehicle.

The companies say they will demonstrate their "Central Sensing Localization and Planning" (CSLP) platform at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Although the partnership plans to begin production in 2019, because of challenges integrating the technology into future vehicles, their systems likely won't hit the consumer market until the early 2020s. 

The announcement of this partnership comes just a week after Ford Motor Co. revealed its plans to build autonomous vehicles without steering wheels or pedals designed for ride-sharing and hailing services. 

"Together, we’re planning to build a new class of machine intelligence capable of mimicking true human driving capabilities," Amnon Shashua, chairman and chief technology officer of Mobileye, told Bloomberg on a conference call Tuesday.

"This partnership will allow us to give our customers an increased level of automated capabilities faster and more cost-effectively," Kevin Clark, chief executive officer of Delphi, said on the call.

The companies will spend "hundreds of millions of dollars" together to build their self-driving system, Mr. Clark said.

Car companies and technology companies are in a race to produce autonomous driving systems. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. has already conducted many miles of road tests. Uber Technologies Inc. is teaming up with Volvo AB and has announced the first semi-autonomous fleet of vehicles will launch for the ride-sharing company in Pittsburgh this year. General Motors has partnered with Lyft with a similar goal in mind.

The Mobileye-Delphi systems could be a good fit for smaller car companies, according to The Wall Street Journal, as they might not have the resources to develop their own systems like some of the other giants. 

Once concern arising from the rush to launch self-driving vehicles is safety. 

The driver of a semi-autonomous Tesla died in a crash in May when he was relying wholly on the autonomous features, which prompted Mobileye to sever ties with Tesla. 

According to Bloomberg, US regulators say 94 percent of car accidents are caused by human error, so car companies are striving to take that responsibility out of the hands of humans. 

"Given the issues with regulators wanting fewer accidents, municipalities dealing with congestion and dealing with the challenges of limited parking and demand from consumers, what you’re seeing is accelerated demand for active safety solutions, ultimately pulling forward the demand" for fully self-driving cars, Clark said.

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